Sunday, November 29, 2009

How to cook the Perfect Steak

Cooking the perfect steak can be a challenge. Smaller cuts of meat can dry out easily or cook too quickly so they become dry, tough or leathery. The best pan to cook them in is a heavy frying pan or griddle. I personally, prefer fillet but if you use the rump, the texture of the meat is firmer and the marbling gives it a full flavour. I got these great tips from the times on line and .

Prepare the steaks
Make sure the meat is at  room temperature

Preheat your pan
Heat a griddle or frying pan over a high heat until hot, but not smoking. (If the pan is too hot, the outside will burn before the inside is done, too cold, and your steaks will be tough).

Brush the steaks with oil, or pour a little oil into the pan, and season if desired. I use canola but you can use olive too if you like the taste. The meat will sizzle when put on the pan - that tells you it is hot enough.

Cook on one side for 3-4 minutes, then reduce to a medium heat and cook for another 2-3 minutes.

Turn the steak over with a pair of tongs, and cook for a further 6 minutes. (You can vary the times here if you prefer a rare or well-done steak.)

Do not prick the meat with a fork or the juices will escape

To check if done, press the steak gently with the tip of your finger. Rare should be soft and supple, well done firm, and medium in between.

Remove from the pan, place on a rack and cover with foil and leave in a warm place for up to 10 minutes. Remember it is always better to over-rest your steaks than to under-rest them. Resting helps the meat to achieve the full flavour and tenderness.

Serve your steaks. The best knives to cut the meat are super sharp, un-serrated steak knives

 How do you like your meat??
Rare (bleu)

• Press-test: Soft
• The internal temperature is 45-47ºC
• The meat is bloody and the juices are dark red.

Medium rare (saignant)

• Press-test: Soft yet springy
• The internal temperature is 50-52ºC
• The meat is still bloody in the centre and the meat juice is light red.

Medium (a point)

• Press-test: Firm and springy
• The internal temperature is 55-60ºC
• The centre of the meat is pink.

Well done (bien cuit)

• Press-test: Firm
• The internal temperature is 64-70ºC
• The meat is cooked throughout and the juices are clear.

Best Cuts

Fillet is the most tender, lean and mild flavoured of all the steaks, therefore the most luxurious and expensive.


Sirloin is tasty and tender with good marbling and a covering of fat on the outside. This fat is what makes sirloin taste so good, but you only need a little to get the full flavour benefits.


Ribeye is juicy and richly flavoured with a rugged appearance, generous marbling and firm texture. It has a wide ribbon of fat at the core which melts during cooking to make it taste extra succulent and mellow.


Rump is very lean with a robust, firm texture and strong beefy flavour. Traditional rump steaks are very sinewy, but good butchers cut round the sinews. This thicker cut, popular on the Continent, is called ‘Pavé’.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Perfect Piecrust

It's that time of year again - pies are abundant and often the problem is making the crust. Some people find this difficult and resort to store bought crusts but there is nothing like the taste of a home made pie crust!
Here are some tips for the perfect crust.

1.Use a mixture of shortening and butter. Shortening makes the pastry flaky and butter adds the great taste.
2. Make sure all the ingredients are chilled - I keep flour in the fridge.
3.Add the water very carefully - too much will make the crust tough and stodgy but if you use too little the crust will fall apart.
4. Don't over mix the dough
5.Salt, vinegar or lemon juice will help the crust from becoming too crumbly.
6. Don't stretch the dough when you roll it. It may look like it's reached the right size but will shrink when you bake it.

You can use a food processor on pulse to make pastry but I find that my hands work just as well (maybe because I have COLD hands!)

Quick Recipe
2/1/2 cups flour
1 tsp salt
(1 tbs sugar if this is for a sweet pasrty)
Sift together

Add 12tbs butter and 1/4 cup shortening cut into small pieces.
Using fingertips rub in  until the mixture looks like breadcrumbs.

Mix 1/2 cup iced water with 1 tbs white wine vinegar
Drizzle on mixture and work untill dough is formed.
Wrap in cling film and chill for 1 hour.

You can pre-bake using pie weights or dry beans at about 375 for about 10-12 mins. Remove weights and bake for another 10-12 mins

Tip: When you transfer the rolled out dough to the dish you are baking it in, line with foil before using the weights, then when you remove the weights cook the 2nd half with no foil to get the crust nice and golden,

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Sausage and Rice Stuffed Peppers

Easy, tasty and healthy! Makes a great supper  - or a brunch!

You can use coloured peppers as well - they look pretty!

Ingredients (serves 3)
3 peppers, halved lengthwise and de seeded
2 Italian sausages.(remove from skins and crumble)
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 cup cooked brown rice
3 tbs fresh basil, chopped
3/4 cup tomato sauce (fresh is best but canned will do!)
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella
3 slices parma ham cut in half

Heat oven to 425F
Place peppers, cut sides up in microwave, covered with wax paper, and zap for 2 mins or until crisp but tender.
In a pan, brown the sausages, add garlic, stir in rice and basil.
Spoon mixture into the pepper halves , add a slice of parma ham on top of each and put in  a baking dish lined in foil.
Spoon tomato sauce over and top with cheese
Bake 15-20 mins until peppers are tender and cheese slightly browned.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Foodie Exchange with calgary, AB

Would you believe it..i got SMARTIES!!! haven't tasted them for years! and some cinnamon honey, beef sticks, more choc and a curry mix...and ketchup chips (crisps)
This exchange is such fun!
Thanks Suzie from Fairy taste
If you havent joined up yet, what are you waiting for? Its a great way to try different food suffs and make friends!

join up here

Saturday, November 14, 2009

NYC exchanges with AZ

What a great exchange this was! Andrea from High/Low Food/Drink send me lots of goodies with a note explaining them all!

1.Mamouns Hot sauce: from one of the BEST cheap eats in NYC - check her blog!
2.Fat witch Brownie: beloved brownies from Chelsea Market where Bobby Flay went to learn how to make brownies on a throwdown episode (I saw that show!!)
3.Jacques Torres Chocolate Bark: his wildly addictive sweet treat
4. Nathan's mustard - Cony Island's Hot Dog eating competition happens every year at Nathan's. Can be enjoyed on hot dogs on on giant pretzels as New Yorkers do!!

Andrea - what can i say!!! Your goodies were AMAZING!!!
Many Many Thanks!!!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Banana Pecan Bread

Great at tea time - even breakfast. Easy to make and keeps nice and moist.

2 cups flour (sifted)
1tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 egg
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup canola oil
1/2 tsp vanilla
3 ripe bananas, mashed
3/4 cup chopped pecans

Pre heat oven to 325F. Grease a loaf pan.
Mix flour, baking powder and salt.
In another bowl, beat egg, sugar, vanilla and oil until combined.
Add flour mixture stirring with a wooden spoon.
Add mashed bananas, mix then fold in the pecans.
Bake for 40-60 minutes till it passes the toothpick test!
Cool then eat!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Mulled Wine

Mulled wine, variations of which are popular around the world,  generally consists of wine mixed with spices and served hot. Originally, preparing mulled wine was a way to extend the life of a wine that had passed its prime,Nowadays, it is a traditional drink during winter, especially around Christmas.
There are several variotions:
Glögg is drunk in Scandinavian countries.
Glühwein is the German version of mulled wine, made with red wine, sugar and spices
Quentão is a Brazilian form of mulled wine. It is made of cachaça, an alcoholic beverage made from fermented sugarcane
Mulled wine is called vin brulé in Italy, vin chaud in France and grzane wino in Poland

In any language...bottoms up!!!
Mulled Wine Recipe
Makes about 16 servings.
1 orange
1 lemon (sliced)
10 whole cloves
5 cardamom pods

3 black peppercorns
Two  cinnamon sticks
1 1/2 liters  fruity red wine, such as Merlot
1 cup honey (you could always use sugar but honey gives this a great taste)
2/3 cup Grand Marnier on any orange-flavored liqueur

Remove the zest from the orange.
Rinse and wring out a 12-inch-square piece of cheesecloth.
Wrap the orange zest, sliced lemon, cloves, pepper corns, cardamon pods, and cinnamon sticks in the cheesecloth and tie with a piece of kitchen string.
Cut the orange in half and squeeze the juice from the orange. Set the juice aside.
In a large  pot, combine the wine, honey, Grand Marnier, orange juice, and the cheesecloth package.
Heat, stirring occasionally to dissolve the honey, over low heat until hot but not boiling, about 30 minutes. (Never let it come to a boil. If you let it heat very slowly over low heat, the spices and orange zest can release their flavors.)
Serve warm.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Apple Chutney

A great recipe taken from the Times on line. I made a couple of jars of this and it's great with pork.
Makes three 500g jars
This chutney will last for up to six months and will improve as it matures.

1kg Bramley apples
500g onions, diced
400g tin chopped tomatoes
300ml cider vinegar
300ml orange juice
150g dried apples, chopped
2tsp ground allspice
1 tsp each ground ginger,
mace and mustard seeds
400g caster sugar

1 Peel and core the apples and cut them into small chunks.
2 Place all the ingredients except the sugar in a preserving pan or other wide, deep pan. Bring just to the boil, then simmer for two hours, stirring frequently.
3 Add the sugar and stir well. Continue cooking over a low heat for an hour, stirring often.
4 Ladle into sterilised jars while still hot. When cold, store in the fridge or a cool, dark place.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Perfect Pan di Spagna - Sponge Cake

The 'secret' to a perfect result is in the beating of the eggs and the sugar. It is during this stage that air is incorporated to the mixture and that is essential for the cake to turn out really soft and sponge like without using any yeast.Eggs and sugar have to be beaten for quite a while, never less than 15 mins, with a good beater until the mixture is frothy and a pale yellow in colour. To test that it has been beaten enough, if you let some of the mixture fall from the beater back into the mixture, it remains 'sitting' on top for a while. If this doesn’t happen it means that the eggs have not been beaten enough and you need to beat them much more.

Don't forget the salt - often omitted - as this helps the eggs to become light and fluffy

Another  phase where you have to be careful is the addition of the flour. This has to be sifted extremely well and added to the egg mixture using a wooden spoon with a gentle but fast movement, stirring from bottom to top, folding in as much air as possible

While cooking, the oven must NEVER be opened as this will cause the cake to deflate. Before removing it from the oven, check that the sides have pulled inwards from the pan, check that the cake is ready using a skewer poked into the middle of the cake. If it comes out absolutely clean then the cake is ready

It is also a good idea that when the cake is ready, turn off the oven but leave the cake there for about 10 mins so that it can cool down slowly. After that, turn the cake out of the pan and put it on a cooling rack

6 eggs
180gms sugar
75 gms flour
75 gms corn flour (corn starch for Americans)
Pinch of salt
(optional - grated rind of 1/2 lemon)

Put eggs and sugar into a bowl and beat for about 15 mins until you have a frothy foamy mixture Add the flours by sifting them into the mixture and folding gently with a wooden spoon.
Put the mixture into a well greased cake tin, level out the mixture and cook in a pre heated over at 150C for about 40 mins

This can be used as a base for tiramisu or trifle and is also delicious on its own with just a dusting of powdered sugar

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Acorn Squash Pasta

Easy, tasty and healthy! You can use pumpkin instead of squash, but do not used the canned stuff..yukkkk!!

150gms squash or pumpkin
50gms parma ham
1 small red onion
50 gms scamorza (smoked provolone)
320g penne rigate ( you can also use farfalle)
salt and pepper to taste
Olive oil
Some chicken or vegetable broth.

Chop the onion finely and fry gently in the olive oil
Cook the squash or pumpkin, chop and add to the onion. Cook for about 5 mins.
Add the salt, pepper and finely sliced parma ham.
Cut the scamorza into cubes and add to the mixture.
Let cook, adding some broth if mixture starts to dry.

Cook the pasta al dente in salted water, drain and add to the squash mixture.


Thursday, November 5, 2009

Foodie exchange - Australia with Arizona

Vegemite!! I love that!! and some super pink salt, crystalised ginger, mango marinade and cadburys!! This was one of the best exchanges - and it made it all the way from Australia!!

Thanks Connor!

Here's to more great exchanges!

Sign up people!


Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Foodie Exchange - Toronto with Arizona

Whats fun!! and i got CHOCOLATES!! yummm
Some very interesting vinegar, and lime rub..this was a great exchange!

I would encourage more people to sign up as this is proving to be a great way to taste different foods.

Can't wait for the next package to arrive from Australia!!!
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All the recipes here have either been sent to me, adapted by me or found on the web. If I know the source I always give credit to the author/website. If you know of a source I may have missed please let me know.