Sunday, June 27, 2010

Salmon Asparagus Loaf

I cooked this loaf a few days ago and have been wrestling with a bit of a dilemma... it doesn't taste very good :(   As I make my way through Mum's recipe book I am expecting to be making lots of memorable meals. This one is weird, I think there is something wrong, you can view the original recipe on the Danish Beef Steak post, I've decided not to reproduce it here. Is there a measurement or ingredient wrong? I'm not sure but it has got me thinking...

Do you remember that there was a time when recipes were cherished and secret? Women protected the formulas; they may be ribbon winners in the local country or Royal shows. Attempting to keep their reputations and status; their recipes became secret and sacred. Sharing recipes with a generous spirit wasn't common like it is today.  This Salmon Asparagus Loaf has caused me to contemplate that time and I started to recall stories of my Grandmother in Bowral, NSW; she died when I was about 10 years old. The story was that when Nanna M. was asked to write out one of her recipes she would often skip an ingredient or vary the quantities... people would say "no one can cook like Peg!" And of course, she was a great cook but also competitive and proud.

Was this loaf enjoyed at a champagne luncheon somewhere and Mum asked for the recipe and this is what she wrote down?  Many of us have tucked a recipe aside to cook one day, I think Mum never cooked this as it unusually sweet. Eggs, Cooked Rice, Salmon, Asparagus and a tin of Condensed Milk.  When I read it through before I cooked it I was didn't really think I would like it, but I thought about that old recipe for mayonnaise made with condensed milk and dry mustard, maybe it inspired this recipe.  And it may have, but perhaps a spoon or two of condensed milk, not the whole can.  Interesting experience.  Banjo is one of my most astute food critics, he recommended the bin, I love his expression in this photo, apologies for the poor quality snap, I couldn't resist including it.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Beef Guide for Slow Cooking

With so much meat being bought from the supermarket it is more difficult to work out the best cut for cooking with, I find it confusing and I worked in a butcher shop at some point in my food career!
I have been thinking more about which beef cut I’ll use as I make my way through Mum’s recipe book. Her book re-introduces me to beef cuts that I rarely use so I thought I would write a short beef guide for slow cooking.
In general people seem to find it difficult to work out the best cut for cooking with, I find it confusing too and I worked in a butcher shop at some point in my food career!
Perhaps it is because we eat less red meat these days.  We have easy access to a wide range of fresh fruit and vegetables, seafood and chicken, and beef has slipped down the ranking in my kitchen and I’m sure in yours too!  I never do a Roast Beef it is almost always a Roast Organic Chicken, weighing in just under 2kg, smothered in garlic, herbs and seasonings (details another day).  So I have become less experienced with beef buying and today I had some questions to ponder:

Which cut of beef is suitable for various cooking methods? 
When the label says casserole meat, what cut is it?
What part of the beast did it come from?
What did that beast feed on?

Looking at meat in a supermarket display, lined up on trays under plastic film and bright lights it is hard to even think about the animal it came from.  I prefer to talk to the local butcher, get a feel for some honest and sustainable supply chains. The butcher makes me think that the meat is fresher, he knows where the meat comes from and if they are grain fed, I feel closer to the farmyard.  Of course buying our meat at the Wayville Farmers Market on Sundays is a better option.  I never feel very organized when I am there to buy meat up for too many meals… I should think about that really.

Beef Guide for Slow Cooking

The Braising/Casserole meats have lots of connective tissues that will melt to tenderness when braised in a flavoursome stock, with herbs and vegetables and perhaps wine, cook slowly and carefully

Chuck Steak      can be a little fatty but good flavour      cook 2-3 hours
Gravy Beef       melts in the mouth easy to use      cook 2-3 hours
Boneless Shin      flavoursome and tender, my favourite    cook 2-3 hours
Osso Bucco (shin, bone-in)      lovely flavour, bone keeps the structure   cook 2-3 hours
Topside      not my choice for a slow cook, too dry     cook 1½- 2 hours
Round**        lean, clean flavour, can be expensive   cook 1½- 2 hours
Blade (Oyster Blade)      similar to shin, great flavour   cook 1½- 2 hours
Skirt Steak                     easy to cut, lean and tasty  cook    1½- 2 hours
Casserole Steak              never too sure what it is, I avoid unspecific labelled meat

** On display at my butcher they have lovely “round” round steaks for $23.99/kg sold as BBQ steaks. And other braising steaks are available at around $17/kg, maybe as low as $12/kg in the supermarket. To cook the Danish Beef Steak I wanted to cook it just like Mum would.  So I asked my butcher if he could find me some regular, old fashioned round steaks. He sliced 1.5 kg straight off the round part of beef from out the back of the shop, and he reduced the price to $18/kg for his trouble, which was much appreciated. The round steak had an intense beefy flavour and was very tender.

To clarify and avoid confusion over the correct terminology I have referred to one of my favourite cook books to check some terminology: Stephanie Alexander (1996), The Cooks Companion (Viking/Penguin).
1. Braising is to cook meat, slowly in the oven with aromatic vegetables, herbs and stock
2. Meat cooked on the stovetop it is called a Stew, it usually has more liquid.
3. Cooking meat slowly in liquids is also called a Casserole, but actually it is the container, heavy based and with and with tightly fitted lid that is the Casserole.

Glad to have that cleared up!


When I was in Japan recently beef was selling for around $80/kg. Very expensive and really the only beef they have has all those fatty sections through it, (see above) called Kobe or Hida beef.  So for these reasons I ate lots of seafood, chicken and vegetables in Japan. 

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Special Fillet Steak


1. Heat oil in a frypan with chopped garlic
2. Sear Fillet Steak on both sides in oil and place it in a flat oven proof dish
3. Cover with black olives and Cook in a very hot oven 220ºC for 8 minutes

I don't go out and buy fillet steak for the family, (no wonder @ $38/kg).  It is something we would order when we are out, but then I rarely order steak. I'm usually looking for something that will inspire me. This recipe is a perfect way to cook and enjoy fillet steak, so lash out, buy some fillet and enjoy!

Aubergine Parmigiana

I've eaten several versions of Aubergine Parmigiana here and in Italy and they have all been amazing.  I am an aubergine/eggplant fan, anytime it is on a menu I will order it, Indians and Japanese also do incredible dishes with this versatile and 'to die for' vegetable. Tonight, start of the week I usually cook something simple, that may give us some leftovers for Al's lunch tomorrow, something gluten free of course and it is cold so we are looking for warming nourishing meals. My favourite classical Italian cookbooks are "Jamie's Italy" and Marcella Hazan's "Classical Italian Cooking" (for details see my page on "Great Recipe Books"). The version I cooked tonight is a cross over with the classic and a version that an Italian girl Nadia shared with me. Her mother slices the aubergine paper thin and then drops it into a cheesy eggy batter to fry up and then layer upon layer with tomato salsa and cheese on top.  Mine is a combination of these recipes I hope you like it!


2 large Aubergines (make sure they are high quality glossy black)
cooking salt
3/4 cup grated Cheese (use Mozzarella, Parmesan or Cheddar, your choice)
3 Eggs
3 tabs Water
1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan
2 tabs Rice crumbs/Bread crumbs
Olive Oil
Tomato Salsa
2 Onions finely chopped
2 cloves Garlic finely chopped
2 tins chopped Tomatoes
1 sm tub Tomato Paste
ground Black Pepper
chopped Fresh Herbs

1. Slice the Aubergine thickly, layer into a colander with a generous sprinkle of salt, leave for 30 mins
2. Rinse Aubergine well and pat dry
3. Break eggs into a medium bowl, whisk and stir in other batter ingredients, mix well
4. Heat heavy based frying pan, add a good cover of oil and when hot, but not smoking add pieces of  Aubergine that has been dredged through the batter, coat well before adding to hot oil
5. Fry all of the pieces, keeping the pan topped up with oil. So that they don't get too greasy keep the oil pretty hot, without letting it burn.
6. Meanwhile make the Tomato Salsa by cooking Onions and Garlic in a little oil until soft and golden
7. Add Tomato paste and stir over heat for 2 mins and then add Tomatoes and Herbs and Spices, cook gently 10 minutes
8. Layer fried Aubergine slices, Tomato Salsa and grated Cheeses, ending with Salsa and Cheese.
9. Bake in moderate oven 180˚C

Serve as a side dish, or with a simple green salad.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

White Fish with Currants

Delicious and simple, this dish can be made in advance and is excellent for a crowd, I love food that can be served at room temperature as it takes the pressure off the cook when entertaining. This is a classic Maggie Beer creation that I have taken from her recent extravaganza book "Maggie's Harvest" p80, in the Summer section. We used Tommy Ruffs just like Maggie suggests. They are pretty common here in SA, their name was recently officially changed to Australian herrings, tasty small oily fish.  I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as we do! Serve with salads or roast garlicky potatoes.

White Fish with Currants
130g dried Currants
1 cup Verjuice (Maggie Beer's)
Butter for cooking
1 cup extra virgin Olive Oil
500g Tommy Ruff fillets (Australian Herring)
Plain Flour seasoned with salt & pepper
3 large Red Onions
rind and juice of 3 Lemons
3 sprigs Thyme

Soak currants in verjuice overnight or heat on defrost in microwave for 5 minutes.  Heat a knob of butter with a little olive oil in a heavy-based fry pan over medium heat until nut brown.  Dust each fillet with seasoned flour just before adding it to the pan and seal for 30 seconds on each side.  Add more butter as needed.
Arrange the fillets in a serving dish in a single layer.  Toss the onions in a little of the olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat until softened, then add the lemon juice, lemon rind, thyme, and currants. Add equal amounts of the verjuice and olive oil, taste, and add more of each as required to make a balanced vinaigrette, then heat gently.  Pour the hot vinaigrette over the fish in the serving dish where the "cooking" will be completed.  The fish can be eaten 15 minutes after the dressing has been added or left at room temperature for a few hours (as along as it isn't too hot). If refrigerating, bring back to room temperature before serving.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Swiss Bliss

1 kg (2lbs) Blade or Chuck steak
1 tabs butter
1 pkt French Onion Soup Mix
½ green Capsicum (Pepper)
2 Tomatoes
½ cup Tomato Juice
1 tabs Worcestershire Sauce*
Salt & Pepper
1 tabs Cornflour

Arrange meat pieces in the centre of large sheet of buttered alfoil,
I found that 2 alfoil parcels was easier to handle. Over the meat
sprinkle soup mix, chopped Capsicum and sliced Tomatoes,
season with Salt & Pepper, mix Tomato Juice
and Cornflour pour over meat,
seal with ends of alfoil, place envelope in shallow baking dish,
bake 2 hours in mod oven 170ºC,  sprinkle with chopped Parsley before serving,

Swiss Bliss is surprisingly good!  I always thought that braising steaks needed a lot of liquid for them to tenderise sufficiently to my liking, we used Oyster Blade steak and it was melt in the mouth, and lovely flavours. I don’t usually buy tomato juice, no one will drink it and the only container I located was a 1 litre can.  Wishing not to waste the left over juice that I’m sure would have decayed in the back of our fridge I used tomato puree instead and included a dessertspoon of water.

* “Lea & Perrins” brand Worcestershire sauce is the one Dad loved in his homemade cocktail sauce for Sydney Rock Oysters: Tomato sauce, Worcestershire sauce, Lemon juice, Pepper and Salt and a dash of Cream. Delicious X

Monday, June 14, 2010

Danish Beef Steak

Many family recipe books show the influence of our European migrants so we expect to see Italian, French, Greek, and Spanish influences.  Mum was more inclined towards open Danish sandwiches (recipes to come in a later post) and today it is Danish Beef Steak and soon it will be Swiss Bliss.  They both sound very exotic, and there is something to be said about a good name.  Probably influenced during one of their many overseas business trips, Mum must have come home all inspired.  (After my recent trip to Japan I went immediately to the Asian grocery stores at the Adelaide Central Markets to stock up on nori, soy and tofu etc).  These are two recipes for good old-fashioned slow cooked meals using cheaper cuts of beef that are transformed into tender, tasty comfort meals that we all really enjoyed.

Danish Beef Steak
Serve with steamed vegetables
1 kg (1½ lb*) Round Steak*
1 large Brown Onion
2 Bay Leaves
¾ cup Red Wine
2 tabs Butter
2 tabs Flour
1 cup Stock
Salt, Pepper, Dried Herbs, pinch of each
2 cloves Garlic
1 Carrot
1 stalk Celery

Cut steak into pieces approx. 4-5cm square. Place meat in a casserole dish, add Onion, Bay Leaves and Wine. Stand overnight in the fridge.  Heat butter in a fry pan and brown the meat in small batches.  Add the flour to the pan and mix into the butter, keep stirring then add all other ingredients.  Bring to the boil, place the meat back into the casserole dish.  Pour in the vege mixture. Cook about 1½ hours in moderate oven 150°C.
*Recipe has been adjusted and rounded up to metric, and altered where I thought was necessary to complete the dish.

When I cooked this I took the meat out of the marinade and dredged each piece in flour. Then browned the meat in the butter.  Because the meat was wet from the wine, it was too heavily coated in the flour and the resulting dish has a gravy that was too thick, so I have changed the method to ensure that you get a better result.  Do let me know how it works for you.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Sauce Montgomery

Here we have the first page in Nonna's book, I hope the format allows for printing.  I  will eventually post every page onto this blog as I continue this journey of recipes, cooking, trialling and remembering. Any photo ideas are welcome, today I've included the photo of Mum and Dad on their 50th Wedding anniversary, camping in the NT.

Does anyone remember having this sauce? Do let me know.

Sauce Montgomery
To serve with Roast Duck
Boil together 2 tabs brown sugar and 2 tabs malt vinegar (substitute with white wine vinegar) until thick and caramelised. Add 1 cup chicken stock. Add 2 tabs grated orange rind, ½ cup orange juice, 2 tabs lemon juice,  ½ tabs grated lemon rind, 2 tabs brandy, and ½ cup juice from a 15oz (425g) can/jar sour cherries. Boil and thicken with 3 teasp. cornflour (mixed into a little cold water first) and the add sour cherries.

Tastes like a really classy sweet and sour sauce, you can of course serve this on your roast Chicken, or grilled pork chops.

Pumpkin, Tomato and White Bean Soup

In this section of the blog I starting a food diary of what I am cooking in my home when I'm not cooking from Mum's recipe book.  

Often the best meals come when I am just looking in the pantry creating a meal out of what is available.  Tonight there was a pot of pumpkin soup that I had quickly made on Sunday morning, I had made some lovely fresh Chicken stock and added a piece of sauteed pumpkin, ginger, garlic.  I didn't really have enough pumpkin for the amount of stock, so I put this unfinished soup in the fridge for "later on".  It was only 13'C today in Adelaide and soup was what we needed.  
I reheated the pumpkin broth (watery soup) and added a tub of left over tomato salsa (tinned tomato, fresh tomato, garlic, basil leaves) that I had made for bruschetta on the weekend.  Then I added a generous amount of ground coriander, a can of white cannellini beans and a dollop of cream.  A quick zap with the bamix, a grind of black pepper and it is done.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Chicken Raymond

This is the first recipe in Mum’s book, when we were really young, roast chicken was such a treat that it was only served on special occasions.  It then became really exotic when Mum started to make Sauce Raymond.  The original recipe came from “The Gretta Anna Recipes” (1978 Quando Pty.Ltd. & Gretta Anna Teplitzky).  Mum always used tinned champignons, I used to love their sliminess now I cannot stand them and use fresh mushrooms.  The sauce is a lovely balance of flavours, no one ingredient should dominate.

Sauce Raymond
To serve with Roast Chicken
Place in a saucepan – 1½ cups chicken stock and ½ pkt sour cream* – thicken with 3 teasps cornflour (mixed in small amount of water) – now add 1 or 2 egg yolks – then add 4oz tinned champignon mushrooms (or sauté 1 cup thinly sliced mushrooms) – 2 tabs sautéed split almonds – 2 tabs sm pieces fried bacon – 1 tabs lemon juice – chopped parsley.  When reheating do not boil.
* refers to the old 300g squat carton, equivalent to 150g sour cream
(tabs = tablespoon)

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Simmering Memories

Not long ago I inherited my mothers beautifully handwritten cookbooks.  At the time I promised to make photocopies for other members of the family.  Now I have decided, instead, to create this blog.  I hope it will be easily accessible and a long lasting record of this wonderful family treasure.

The first few times I looked through Mum’s recipe books I felt excited to have all those recipes and then the memories started to pour into my mind.  The books started to be more than just food recipes.

There is a big collection of recipes; some Mum cooked many times, others I have never seen. There are also ideas from magazines or notable cook books, some recipes given to her by friends and family members and most are hand written, not always by Mum.

There are names, footnotes, sticky notes, tea stains, side notes and scraps of paper with recipes and meal ideas tucked in between pages.  These create so many memories of meals prepared in the big country style kitchen and shared in the large high ceiling dining room of our family home in Hunters Hill, a leafy suburb in Sydney, Australia.

I remember many but not all of the people behind the names and I hope that in this blog we will be able to piece together who they were, find the friends, and contributors, share memories and stir up a cooking creation that is a tribute to our Mum and Nonna, Janet Macnaught and all those who were influencers to our kitchen memories and meals. 

This is interactive, and I am looking for feedback and corrections, which I am sure will come streaming in from my family and I have 3 sons, a step daughter and a step son, I also have 4 sisters and 4 brothers all with spouses and we together produced 27 grandchildren and about a dozen great grandchildren, not to mention the growing number of step grandchildren (I’m not sure who is keeping the count these days).

In a desire to share the recipes in a format that is easily accessible I have set up this blog: "Simmering Memories" join me!