July 22, 2009

Comfort Food

With the cold winter winds and rain beating on our windows, hot comfort food for dinner is the key to keeping warm. And what better dish to serve in the winter than a hearty meat pie (also a great way to use up the beer my parents left behind). I served the pie with some roasted winter vegies.

20090722 Beef and Beer Pie 1

20090722 Beef and Beer Pie 2

20090722 Beef and Beer Pie 3
I didn't have a smaller casserole dish, hence the small amount of filling compared to the pastry.


1/4 cup plain flour
400g beef chuck steak, trimmed and cut into approximately 3cm pieces
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large brown onion, chopped
2 medium carrots, chopped
Champignons (button mushrooms) - I used half a can
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 tablespoon worcestershire sauce
1 1/2 cups beef stock
345ml bottle lager beer (I used VB)
1 sheet ready-rolled frozen puff pastry, partially thawed
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 teaspoons sesame seeds

1. Place flour in a large bowl. Add beef, and toss to coat.
2. Heat half the oil in a large saucepan over high heat.
3. Cook beef in batches, for 4 to 5 minutes or until browned. Transfer to a plate.
4. Heat remaining oil in pan over medium-high heat. Cook onion and carrot, stirring for 5 minutes or until onion has softened.
5. Return beef to pan. Add tomato paste. Stir to coat.
6. Add worcestershire sauce, stock and beer. Bring to the boil. Reduce heat to low.
7. Simmer, partially covered, for 1 1/2 hours or until beef is tender. Set aside to cool.
8. Preheat oven to 200C/180C fan-forced.
9. Spoon mixture into a 6 cup-capacity overproof dish. Top with pastry, trimming excess.
10. Brush pastry with egg. Sprinkle with sesame seeds.
11. Bake for 30 minutes or until golden.
12. Let the pie rest for a couple of minutes after it's baked, and then serve.

  • I actually forgot about the beef stock when I made this. But I reckon it made the dish more flavoursome, as the beer was reduced to a thick gravy, which complemented the beef very well.
  • I was quite liberal with the worcestershire sauce. I just poured until it reached the flavour I wanted, which was a bit more bite than what the original recipe would have produced.
  • The funny-looking square thing on top of the pastry puff was leftover pastry which I cut off to fit the roasting tin. Let's not waste what can be eaten.

20090722 Beef and Beer Pie 4


A few dashes of olive oil
2 carrots
1/2 butternut pumpkin
1 large potato
Dried sea salt
Dried oregano leaves
Dried rosemary leaves
Fresh sprigs of thyme

1. Preheat oven to 180C/160C fan-forced.
2. Chop vegies and season generously with a combination of the salt and herbs.
3. Roast vegetables in a roasting tin for 50 minutes
4. Take the dish out of the oven every 15 minutes to toss the vegies.

These two dishes are easy to make, and cheap too. All in all, I spent about ten bucks for the dinner. Talk about savings.

July 21, 2009


20090721 Swearing

It's double standards for me when it comes to swearing. I do it (not that often, but enough), but I can't stand it when other people swear. It's terrible (me, that is). My parents hate it when my brother and I swear in the house, so the worst we say are "shit" and "bitch". Up to now, I've never heard my parents drop the F-bomb, not even when they're really angry, or in the presence of friends. To be honest, I don't think I'd be comfortable in hearing them using the word, so I'm thankful they're reserved enough to keep it to themselves.

I remembered chastising an ex-boyfriend when we started dating because he was very loose with the tongue when it came to Hokkien cuss words. Now as much as I don't like hearing people swear, English cuss words are, oddly, tolerable. It's the Hokkien ones which repulse me to no end. I don't know why. I was very glad that towards the end of that relationship, the frequency of hearing those words decreased significantly. Nope, it wasn't my doing :)

Oddly though, when I was in the US last year for about 10 days, I've only heard swearing once. ONCE! In Melbourne, I hear it every day. On the streets, on the train, on the bus, etc. Does that mean that Australians swear more? I really have no idea.

I have to admit that ever since I moved to Melbourne, I've been swearing a lot more than I have in the past 20-odd years. I too, lace my words with the F-bomb ever so often. I completely draw the line at using words with genitals in them, but other than that, I'm afraid I too, am guilty. Sigh.

Feel free to wash my mouth with soap.

July 14, 2009

Of Masterchef and Eating in Australia

Masterchef LogoMasterchef Australia will be ending this week, and I'm actually sad to see it go. I've been following the reality TV show very closely ever since it started a few months ago. I even saw George Calombaris at The Press Club during my birthday dinner with the hubs (oh yeah, I was starstruck. Even more than when Gordon Ramsay walked into the restaurant an hour later).

Some thoughts about the show - I'm torn between Justine and Poh to win. If they were to run an audience voting system, you bet I'll be wasting money on text messages. That's how hooked I can be to reality TV. Tsk tsk.

The thing about watching Masterchef, and living in Australia, has somewhat turned me into a food snob. I'm now pretty particular about what I eat. I love fresh produce, and the fact that it's so readily available to me. Good food doesn't have to be expensive. In fact, I've had some swell meals in obscure, cheapo restaurants, and crappy ones at expensive restaurants.

Have all these turned me into a fantastic cook? Definitely not, but at least I'm now better than I was before. At least, I hope I am.