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Free Recipe Friday: Giant Yorkshire pudding with pan-roasted rump steak and gravy

Sometimes, not too often, I just want some real traditional cooking put in front of me! My husband could eat this sort of food on the daily, so he obviously rejoices! My grandmother always maintained you couldn’t whisk the pudding mix too much. She also made it the day before and put it in the fridge overnight to ensure the mix had a lot of air in!

For the Yorkshire pudding:

4 tbsp Rice bran oil 300 g Self-raising flour ½ tsp Salt ¼ tsp Black pepper 2 Egg 200 ml Whole milk ½ cup Water

For the steak:

600 g Rump steak Rice bran oil for frying Salt and pepper to taste

For the vegetables:

2 Carrot, sliced 1 head Broccoli, cut into florets

For the gravy:

1 Beef stock cube 1½ cup Vegetable water 1 tbsp Cornflour Salt and pepper to taste

Method:

Pre-heat the oven to 220°C. Add the oil for the Yorkshire pudding to an oven dish and place on the top rack in the oven. For the Yorkshire pudding, sift the flour into a large mixing bowl and season with salt and pepper. Make a well in the centre of the flour. Break the eggs into the well and begin to whisk them, using a hand-held or electric whisk. Incorporate the flour from the sides slowly to prevent lumps forming. When the mixture becomes firm, start adding all the milk and water gradually, whisking constantly. Set aside in the fridge until the oven pan is heated. Remove the pre-heated pan with the oil from the oven (or carefully slide out the top oven rack partially). The oil should be smoking hot at this point and you will need to work quickly to prevent it from cooling. Pour the batter evenly into the oven tray. Place high up in the oven and cook pudding for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown, crisp and puffed up. The cooking time will depend on your oven, as well as the size of your oven pan, so keep a close eye on it from 15 minutes onwards. Use a skewer or toothpick to check if it’s cooked – the skewer will come out clean when it’s done. Cook the steak while the Yorkshire pudding is in the oven. Heat an oven-proof frying pan to a medium-high heat on the stove top. Rub the steak with a little oil and season generously with sea salt and coarsely ground pepper. Once the pan is very hot, add the beef and sear for 2 minutes on each side. Cover pan loosely with foil, pop in the bottom of the oven and cook for 10 minutes for medium rare or longer for more well done. Bring a small pot of water to the boil while cutting the carrot into half-moon shapes and the broccoli into florets. Once the water is boiling, add veg to the pot and cook for 2-3 minutes. Reserve some cooking water before draining the vegetables. Cover with a lid to keep warm. Once the steak is cooked, remove from the oven and the pan and rest under tinfoil for 5 minutes while making the gravy. Place the pan back on the stove top and bring to a medium heat. Crumble in stock cube and 1 cup of vegetable water and simmer for 3-4 minutes. Add cornflour to a further ½ cup of vegetable water and mix into a paste. Add to the gravy and allow to thicken for 1-2 minutes. Incorporate the juices from the resting steak to give the gravy extra flavour. Taste and season, adding more vegetable water if needed. To serve, remove Yorkshire pudding from the oven and slide onto a large board (or serve straight from the oven pan). Slice the steak into thin pieces and load into the middle along with veges. Drizzle the gravy over it all just before serving and tuck in.
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Take it slow this winter – my top tips for using a slow cooker!

Use all the kit.

Our slow cooker menu is designed with optimal convenience and flavour in mind. We recommend that you have some other kitchen appliances on hand – such as a blender or food processor, as these may be handy for some recipes.

Safety first!

Place the cooker on a flat surface. My suggestion is to always use your slow cooker on a flat, heat-safe surface — like your kitchen countertop! — away from piles of loose papers or random kitchen towels, or where puddles of water might form (in other words, away from the sink or an open window).

Vintage style cooker?

So you’ve pulled out old aunt Berta’s cooker from the shed? That’s awesome! Please do me a favour and stay present for the first cooking session (after giving it a real good clean!). You don’t know what might happen. You can also check the heating element and calibration. Fill the slow cooker 2/3 to 3/4 of the way full with tap water (tepid, not too hot or cold), set it to the low setting, and then check with a food thermometer after eight hours. The thermometer should read at least 85°C. Personally I don’t believe in buying new stuff if it can be avoided so we have a hand-me-down from my mother in law and it’s great! Of course I have had to send some time getting to know the machine, and now we have a relationship for life.

Prepare in advance.

If you’re short on time in the morning, prepare everything you need for your slow-cooked meal the night before, put it into the slow-cooker dish, cover and store in the fridge overnight. Ideally the dish should be as close to room temperature as possible, so get it out of the fridge when you wake up and leave it for 20 minutes before turning the cooker on. If you need to heat your dish beforehand, then put the ingredients in a different container and transfer them in the morning.

Size matters.

Sorry lads, but it does… In the test kitchen we have found that using the right size slow cooker is pivotal to ensuring the cooking time is correct. If you slow cooker is a rather large one, it’s probably suited to 6-8 serves, where as a smaller one is suited to 4 servings. This makes a difference in that the surface area in a larger cooker will mean that a smaller portion will cook too quick, and may even end up drying out. Conversely, jamming too much food into a smaller cooker will likely slow down the cooking time because the poor thing will be overloaded.

To brownor not to brown?

We definitively recommend that you brown the meat (or other ingredients) when it gives the option to. It might not seem like a necessity but it’s well worth spending a few minutes at the start of the recipe to optimise flavour in your dinner. You’ll thank us later!

Low fat – full of flavour.

You don’t need to add a lot of oil to a slow cooker, the contents won’t catch as long as there’s enough moisture in there. You don’t need a lot of fat on your meat either. Normally when you fry meat, a lot of the fat drains away, this won’t happen in a slow cooker so trim it off, otherwise you might find you have pools of oil in your stew. This will give you a healthier result and it’ll still be tasty.

Leave it alone

Once cooking, leave the slow cooker alone. I mean seriously! Step away! Fiddling and stirring will only increase the cooking time and could possibly affect the end result. Slow cookers are designed to do their own thing so you don’t need to keep checking the contents. Every time you take the lid off it will release some of the heat, so if you keep doing this you’ll have to increase the cooking time.
Root vegetables that take longer to cook will need to go at the bottom of the pot – closer to the heat element, whereas softer ingredients such as capsicums can go at the top, so that they don’t end up cooking to mush.
If you are going to cook frozen food in the slow cooker, such as a frozen piece of meat, it is recommended by the appliance manufacturers that it is first defrosted, and that the rest of the ingredients you add into the pot are room temperature (stock, canned tomatoes, etc.) or slightly warmed. This is to ensure that all the food reaches the proper cooking temperature within a safe cooking time, as designed.
To ensure your food is cooked safely, the contents of the slow cooker all need to reach 60-70°C within two hours of operation. The newer slow cookers on the market do this fairly reliably because the sides and the bottom both have heating elements; older slow cookers usually just heat from the bottom, which can make them less reliable for cooking frozen foods. As with all appliances, refer to the enclosed manufacturer instruction booklet for clarity regarding your specific cooker.

Leftovers? That’s a win!

For me the whole point of using a slow cooker is to get some leftovers for lunch or even another dinner. It’s a cook once eat twice type scenario, which is great for busy folk like me.
As with all food that gets stored in the refrigerator or freezer, leftovers from your slow cooker need to be cooled on the countertop to about room temperature before placing into the fridge or freezer for storage. Do this within two hours of finishing cooking. Do not put the hot slow-cooker insert directly into the fridge.
When it comes to reheating, do not reheat food in the slow cooker. Again, it can take too long for the food to come up to a safe temperature. Safety experts recommend reheating cooked food on the stove or by another quicker method, until steaming. After that you can place the food in a slow cooker to keep it warm for up to two hours.

Get creative!

For me slow cooking is about so much more than meat and three veg, although that’s nice too! I like to experiment with vegetarian dishes and different types of grains and even pasta!

Designed for ease.

We have designed most of our recipes to include as little hands on time as possible, as this is the beauty of slow cooking to me. That was you can enjoy a beautiful and flavourful meal which will fill your house with a stunning aroma, without being a slave to the stove for hours. So you can spend more time doing what you love. You’re welcome and enjoy!
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Getting kids to eat vegetables

If you’re a parent, you will know that getting kids to eat their vegetables can be somewhat anxiety-inducing… My daugther, who is three and a half, is just like your typical pre-schooler, and before that she was a typical toddler and baby. We’ve had some food fights, don’t get me wrong, but I would like to think that she is growing up to have a fairly balanced palate. As a nutritionist, it’s important to me that she has a healthy diet, so I have given this a lot of thought, and some research… Here’s my personal experience from being a mum, and previous to that a nanny, when it comes to getting young people to eat their vegetables.
Emma, Kenzie and a box of food
  1. Chill out
If the mama’s and daddy’s of the household are super tense about something, then of course the tiny people will sense that and instantly feel the need to rebel. If we approach vegetables with an air of “it doesn’t worry me if you eat your veges or not” then kids will be more likely to eventually experiment or give them a try. Remembering that kids are natural born scientists – they want to experience new things, it’s in their nature – if we just make the veges available to them then at some point the curiosity will take over. Sadly, you can’t fake this…. You need to genuinely work on your own attitude to your kids’ eating habits and know that you can’t control everything, and trust that everything will be ok in the end.

  1. Be a role model
If you don’t eat vegetables, try new foods and keep an open mind to new flavours, then why would you expect your kids to? Again, this can’t be faked. If you’re not excited about certain vegetables, and you’re not keen on passing on your own limitations to your children, then be brave and try some new ways of cooking them. You might still not like them but at least you tried. Have an honest and open chat to your kids about how you never used to like this food but now you’re trying some new recipes. Our kids are watching our every move, even when we think we’re being super sneaky…
 
  1. Hide them in plain sight
Sometimes I don’t want to fight, but I know she needs vegetables in her body. That’s when I start to get creative with hiding vegetables in the foods I know she will eat. Or blend them in a smoothie. But I will also (almost always) put whole unadulterated vegetables on the side. Just to keep her exposed to them…  I’ll also casually display vegetables and fruits where she can see them, like on the kitchen bench, so that if she comes into the kitchen looking for a snack, she might see a glass with a celery stalk in it and feel the need to chomp on that. That’s when I go outside and practice my evil-master-genius-laugh…
In spite of my best efforts, these were Kenzie’s least favourite. She refused carrots in any way, shape or from until very recently.
  1. Offer, offer, offer
Here’s a radical idea. If you don’t put a food in front of someone, then they can’t possibly try them. I remember the fist time I offered mushrooms to Kenzie. I thought, of well, she won’t eat them but at least she will see them (I based this assumption on what other people had told me “kids don’t like mushrooms”). She ate them all up and begged for more! Still to this day mushrooms are one of faves, and she almost always eats them. Imagine if I hadn’t put them in front of her on that day? Another important aspect of offering up foods is when they don’t seem to like a particular vegetable. My recommendation would be to still offer it. For the first three years of her life Kenzie wouldn’t eat lettuce or carrots. We kept putting them on her plate from time to time, just to normalise them and now she eats them (sometimes)
 
  1. Get them involved
I don’t know about your kids but once I started getting Kenzie involved in the kitchen, she became more and more excited about learning the names of vegetables and trying them (sometimes only by licking them, but hey…) When she first started asking to help cook dinner I was aware that I needed to allow the extra time and mess that it would mean to have her there… I didn’t want to discourage her even though I knew that it was going to slow the dinner making process down. Now I quite often set aside a simple task for her to do, but I make sure that it’s a meaningful one so that she really feels like shes contributed to the family dinner. Growing vegetables at home is another great way to do this. I feel like some days Kenzie gets 2-3 of her 5-a-day in the garden – cape gooseberries, raspberries, cherry tomatoes, apple cucumber and even kale…
In case you needed proof of that, here’s Kenzie at the age of 2… Eating kale with gusto.
And here’s the bonus tip: Make it fun! Everyone loves to have a good time, right? So why should eating vegetables be any different? The bonus there is that if you are relaxed and allowing some laughter into the kitchen or dinner table, then kids will sense that there is nothing to be worried about and instantly relax as well.
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Free recipe Friday – Emma’s Macedonian Spice Mix

I’m sure it comes as no surprise that Emma likes to experiment with herbs and spices in the kitchen. Just over a year ago she put her researching hat on and worked hard to perfect this Macedonian spice mix which features in our Macedonian lamb moussaka with yoghurt-dill dressing and side salad. Don’t confuse this with a Greek Moussaka, which features aubergines and a different spice combination, like one of our proof-readers did. There were some heated discussion, but they all made friends in the end 🙂

Macedonian lamb moussaka with yoghurt-dill dressing and side salad

           

For the moussaka:

2 tbsp olive oil
¾ red onion, finely sliced
500g lean lamb mince
2 tbsp Macedonian spice mix (see below)
800g potatoes, sliced
Butter for greasing

For the topping:

4 eggs, beaten
2 cups whole milk
½ tsp salt
½ tsp black or white pepper

For the dressing:

2 pots natural yoghurt
2 tbsp dill, chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
Pinch of salt

To serve:

150g mesclun, torn
2 carrots, grated
¼ red onion, finely sliced
Drizzle of olive oil and red wine vinegar

For 2 tbsp Macedonian spice mix:

2 tsp smoked paprika
2 tsp dried dill or parsley
2 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp ground cumin

Method:

Pre -heat oven to 210°C. <

Get started with the moussaka. Heat olive oil in heavy frying pan over a medium heat. Add onion (reserving some for the salad) and cook gently for 2-3 minutes until translucent. Add mince to the pan and cook until is lightly browned – about 3-4 minutes, breaking it up as it cooks. Sprinkle in the spice mix and cook out for a minute or two, then remove the pan from heat and set aside. Add 2-3 tablespoons of water if it’s burning or looking dry.

Scrub and slice the potatoes thinly into 2-3 mm rounds while the mince is cooking. Set aside. Combine the eggs and milk in a bowl for the topping and season with salt and pepper. Set aside.

Handy Hint: Take a moment to read the following paragraph and gauge the quantity of ingredients to choose an oven dish of the appropriate size.

Butter a deep baking dish, then lay out half of the sliced potatoes and sprinkle with a little salt and pepper. Spread out all the mince, sprinkle with salt and pepper. Lay out the remaining potatoes and season again with salt and pepper. Press down to firm up the mixture and remove any air pockets, then pour over the milk and egg mixture. Ensure the potatoes are covered in the egg.

Cover the dish with tin foil and pop in the oven. Bake for 30-35 minutes until the potatoes are soft enough to pierce with a knife. Remove the tin foil and cook for another 10-12 minutes, finishing off under the grill to brown if needed.

While the moussaka is in the oven, prepare the rest of the meal. Finely chop the dill and combine with the remaining ingredients for the dressing. For the salad, shave or grate the carrot and combine with finely sliced red onion and torn mesclun in a bowl. Drizzle with a little olive oil and vinegar if desired.

To serve, dish up the piping hot moussaka straight from the oven. Serve the salad on the side and dot with the yoghurt dressing.

Enjoy!
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From Italy to Hawaii, with a quick stop in Sweden

Love fusing various nationalities together on a plate? Come here then….

This week we feature Hawaiian pizzas on wholemeal base with Swedish pizza salad on the Express and Family Menu (5 meals).
Hawaiian pizzas are a classic, a real favourite for the little kids in the house especially. You might not find it in your most authentic Italian restaurant though. My foodie father informs me that it was invented by a man of Greek origin, who lived in Ontario, Canada! There’s a fun foodie fact for you! Traditionally it’s made with tinned pineapple, but we like to freshen things up, so we use a real fresh pineapple.

On the side of this hammy, cheesy fruity-liciousness we provide our customers with the ingredients and recipe for a Swedish classic side dish. Where ever you go in Sweden – order a pizza and you get a pizza salad on the side. You would just never eat pizza without it. (Well, perhaps in the most authentic Italian restaurant.) I remember going to Italy as a child and being appalled at the lack of pizza salad on the side of my pizza. It’s basically cabbage and onion in a vinaigrette, with some local variations of course. I would recommend making it earlier in the day or even the night before, because the flavours develop as time goes.
For the Swedish pizza salad:
3 cups cabbage, shredded ½ cabbage
1 spring onion, sliced
2 tsp white wine vinegar
2 tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
For the pizzas:
4 wholemeal pizza bases
1/3 cup tomato paste
1 tbsp olive oil
150 g champagne ham, sliced
100 g cheese, grated
1 crown pineapple, sliced
Pinch of dried oregano (optional)
Method: 
Pre-heat the oven to 220°C.
Slice ham into thin strips. Grate the cheese, removing the rind; trim, core and slice the pineapple into rings.
Spread tomato paste onto the pizza bases then place the bases in the oven and pre-bake for 5-6 minutes until a little golden and crisped up.
While the bases are in the oven, fry the pineapple rings. Add oil to a large frying pan or griddle pan and once the oil is shimmering, add the pineapple rings and char for 2 minutes per side. Meanwhile make the Swedish pizza salad. Slice the spring onion and finely shred the cabbage using a sharp knife, mandolin or cheese slicer. Place in a large salad bowl and mix in vinegar and olive oil. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Remove the pre-baked pizza bases from the oven and top with the cheese, ham and charred pineapple rings in that order.  Pop the bases back into the oven for 8-10 minutes until the cheese has melted and browned a little.
To serve, place pizzas onto a large board and cut into slices. Sprinkle with dried oregano to taste. Serve at the table with the pizza salad. I hope you give this a go, and enjoy the culinary trip around the world.