In my usual Saturday style, today was devoted to cooking – ah what joy, though timing everything perfectly between feeding my daughter adds a extra element of complexity and in an ideal world I’d have a couple of extra hotplates and two ovens (I can dream). So while the rest of the house slept I got to work. My plans initially involved five separate dishes, though in the end two were abandoned due to a depleted egg supply and a total under-estimation of the time each would take.
First off the mark was the standard loaf of bread. I had been watching a Nick Nairn cooking show while having lunch and part of it was on bread making. The advice there was to always sift your flour to add air to the dough. Sounds simple and somewhat obvious, but I hadn’t considered this in my past attempts. And my findings having tried out this technique – a loaf of even more impressive proportions, it rose like you wouldn’t believe and the shape was perfect, no weird protruding parts. Having said that, my oddly shaped loaves did have character! And so task one was done.
Next one the list was my first attempt at the classic corned beef, inspired by a close friend and with a Donna Hay recipe in hand. By now you might be noticing a pattern with the use of Donna Hay recipes – yes I am a real fan of hers. I find these recipes are usually quite simple, don’t have a list of ingredients as long as your arm and are almost always successful. So beef into the pot with bay leaves, cloves, peppercorns, onions, malt vinegar and brown sugar, bring to the boil and then simmer for one and a half hours. Don’t you just love those dishes you can get going then just leave to do their thing.
After that time had passed I had a beautifully pink piece of beef. And for tonight’s dinner we had corned beef with white sauce, carrots cooked in with the beef, mashed potatoes and steamed greens. Definitely a meal from the past (I’m not really sure when this combination came into existence in Australia, I’m guessing maybe the fifties, but certainly around during my childhood in the eighties), but still a winner. Even more remarkable, this meal got a definite thumbs up from the always difficult to please Miss Two. While she has always eaten a wide variety and often likes surprising foods (brie cheese with quince paste being a particular favourite) getting her to actually eat a proper meal has been a struggle. Well, not so tonight, the only thing left in her bowl were the greens – I guess you can’t have everything! On a side note, I had intended on taking a photo of a stunningly ‘plated’ dish, but I was a little heavy handed with the white sauce ending in a rather messy looking meal – tasted delicious all the same and you can never have too much white sauce can you?
I still have about two thirds of the corned beef left and in pondering what to do with this I again consulted Donna. As always she provided four additional recipes for using the beef once cooked. One of these is a corned beef pie and as I made roughly three times more white sauce then I needed, these will be on the menu in the next few days. As well I think I’ll experiment with some bubble and squeak using corned beef instead of bacon and shredded brussel sprouts instead of cabbage. I’ve been looking for interesting ways to use brussel sprouts which have been regular additions to my fruit and veg box from Aussie Farmers Direct. This wouldn’t be my first choice, but has certainly made me think a bit more about the vegetable accompaniments to the meals I prepare. I would highly recommend blanching the sprouts, then cutting them in half, sprinkling with thyme and honey and baking in the oven – Yum! I’ll report back on the bubble and squeak.
And the final flourish for this dedicated home cook, as promised, was some lemon butter. I use (read stole) this recipe from Hazel Dene, trialing the mix master method as described. Anything that saved sieving eggs sounded good to me. It worked a treat, despite my concern that it wasn’t going to thicken. I had stirred and stirred for what seemed like forever without change, then all of a sudden it was thick. I ended up with three very full bottles and a little left to lick out of the bowl.
If you remember from my earlier post I have had a recent run of lemons given to me firstly by my mother in law and then by my soon to be sister in law and have been looking for ways to use them. So this was made using home grown lemons and I must say it is VERY lemony – as was the lemon curd slice. There seems to be a marked difference between store bought and home grown lemons. I’ll be visiting my grandfather tomorrow – first meeting of his newest great grand child – and will almost certainly be returning with another bag of homegrown lemons, so stay tuned for more lemony goodness. Your recipes are more than welcome by the way.
Here are the results of my day in the kitchen.
The two abandoned recipes were a cheese cake slice and an orange cake. These will be completed sometime later in the week once the egg supply has been replenished. I have a couple of other post topics up my sleeve at the moment so will be writing again soon – there are some exciting things happening in the garden!