Posts tagged beef

So hot back then – nachos from the nineties

I don’t know about you, but back in 1991, nothing said ‘mature’ quite as much as popping out to the new Belaroma Café for a ‘cup of chino’ and a bagel. It was a 15-minute drive away, but cafes were a bit few and far between back then. Sure, there was the Grace Brothers cafeteria, where you pushed your tray along the metal shelf and ogled cling wrapped bits of black forest gateau but nothing competed with the Belaroma in terms of sophistication.

I seem to recall being there ALL THE TIME once I got my drivers license and could meet up with friends at the shocking hour of 9pm on a Tuesday! The freedom was delicious.

But perhaps we overdid it a little. I don’t think I’ve eaten a piece of carrot cake since 1993 and I can’t even say the word ‘nachos’ without a touch of scorn, so cemented is it to 1992 in my memories. But determined to be open minded in my quest for new family food, last week I whipped up a version of the tex-mex classic. Lo and behold, it was a MASSIVE hit, with the light-eating Miss F getting through two whole plates of it. I guess there was a reason why it became so popular, after all.

And it’s another recipe that can be made ahead and then assembled whenever you need.

Enjoy it; I’m off to dig through carrot cake recipes…

Corn chip lures, with all the healthy bits melted on top.



Nachos

1 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, finely diced
500g lean beef mince
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp cumin
2 tsp oregano
3-4 tbsp sweet chilli sauce
1×2 tbsp tomato paste sachet
1 carrot, peeled, grated
½ green capsicum, finely diced
400g borlotti beans, rinsed, drained
400g can chopped tomatoes
½ cup water

To serve
Corn chips (buy the ones from the health food isle)
Avocado
Tomato
Grated cheese

Heat the oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Saute the onion until golden, stirring frequently. Add in the mince and use the spoon to break up any lumps until it is all browned.

Add in the garlic, cumin, oregano, sweet chilli and tomato paste. Mix in the carrot, capsicum and beans and combine well.

Pour over the tomatoes and use the half-cup of water to swish out the remnants of the can. Bring to a simmer for about 15-20 minutes. Taste and season if need be.

Set aside, ready to use whenever you need it.

To compile the nachos, either…

Add a few chips to a plate (don’t give them too many!). Spread over a layer of mince, scatter the tomato and avocado, sprinkle with cheese and microwave until it is hot and the cheese just melted.

OR

Make one big family serve on an oven tray (lined with foil) and bake in the oven until the cheese is melted and golden.

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“What would my mom do?”

I’ve got a parenting dilemma on my mind, so I’ve been surfing the net and having a think about ethics, decision-making and how to raise ‘morally courageous’ children.

There’s a nice PBS story here (watch the video) about a fella who spends his life teaching people how to make ethical decisions. Not just any old decisions, but life’s tricky and less obvious ones. When a question has two right answers, which one is REALLY right?

He advises taking the ‘stench test’, which is a gut level response to something. How badly does does a particular response smell? And beyond that you can take the ‘mom test’ which is “what would my mom do?” Which is great advice, except when you’re the mom and you don’t know what to do.

Not that my problem is large – it’s just that Miss F has qualified for the next round of her year 2 public speaking competition. Which of course isn’t the problem. The problem is that her speech focuses on what a MEANIE her mum is, and spins an entertaining story of her horrible mum FORCING her to do ballet instead of karate. It’s a thrilling tale, full of arabesques and kung-fu kicks that was a hit with the 7-year-olds. And now in the next round, I can go along to cheer her on.

The problem for me is that the entire speech isn’t true. Not a word. She doesn’t do ballet OR karate. She does netball. And that was her choice. So do I stand in a hall and cheer her on as she slags off her mum in front of 3 classes of kids and their parents? Do I suck it up and clap and cheer for her at the sake of my own humiliation?

The STENCH TEST tells me that I have to. Other ethics articles I read talked about keeping a strong sense of ‘ethical goals’ in mind. Which for me, means that I want to be a supportive parent and regardless of subject matter, I need to be there for my child. The WHAT WOULD MY MOM DO test is tougher. My mum would definitely have been there. But to be fair, I would never have made a fictitious speech out of being mad at her. Tricky.

Your dilemma this week is simpler. Do you make this beef goulash in a pot in the oven or in your slow cooker? It’s another yes/yes decision and whichever you choose, there are instructions below. Best yet, there is no stench test, just a delicious aroma to enjoy.

Finish up winter with this delicious dish.

Beef goulash (two ways)

2 tbsp olive oil
3-4 tbsp plain flour (omit this for slow cooker)
1 kg chuck steak, cut into 2-3cm cubes
2 onions
1 stalk celery, sliced
1 large carrot, peeled, diced
1 parsnip, peeled, diced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
3 tsp sweet paprika
1 tsp brown sugar
1 litre beef stock (slow cooker variation: ½ litre)
400g tomatoes
¼ cup tomato paste

You need a stove to oven casserole dish for this version of the recipe.

Preheat the oven to 160C.

1. Heat the oil in your casserole dish over medium/high heat. Toss the steak in the flour to coat. Shake off excess and cook in batches, turning to brown on all sides. Remove and set aside. Repeat until it is all done. (Take your time, it’s worth doing this properly – I always get this bit underway then chop up the rest of the vegies in between turning). Remove and set aside.

2. Add more oil to the pan if needed and sauté the onions, celery and carrot for 3-4 minutes until starting to soften. Add the parsnip then the garlic, stirring constantly.

3. Return the meat to the pan. Sprinkle over the paprika and sugar. Cook for another minute or so before pouring over the stock, tomatoes and tomato paste.

Cover with a lid, transfer to the oven and cook for 2 hours.

Remove, season to taste and serve with pasta, peas and sour cream.

SLOW COOKER VARIATION.

Heat a frying pan over medium/high heat. Add some oil and follow step 2 from the regular recipe. Pour this mix into the base of your 5.5-6 litre slow cooker.

Toss the meat in the paprika & sugar then pop straight into the cooker (yay – no need to brown). Pour over ½ litre stock, 400g tomatoes and ¼ cup tomato paste.

Cover and cook on low for 8 hours.

SERVES 2 ADULTS & 6ish KIDS (or you’ll probably get enough for two family meals – stock the freezer).

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Vegetable subterfuge (and when to tell the kids the truth)

Admittedly, the placement is poorly thought through.

Turns out that Mr Meat & Potatoes has been in the habit of overshooting the toilet and weeing in the plastic bathroom bin. Doing its job well, the swing-lid has been closing post-stream and I’ve been none the wiser. Now, without revealing too much about my lax home-making abilities, I had noticed a smell but thought I’d just give it a few more days before investigating. You know, in case it was going to fade away all by itself and my intervention was unnecessary.

It didn’t though. The smell got stronger, almost to the point of rancid and then I realised I was going to have to do something about it.

So I sniffed about and there in the bottom of the bin was a puddle of urine that dated back several days.

I wondered if this was my little boy’s subconscious way of getting back at me for all of the vegetables that I’ve hidden in his food over the years. Perhaps his angelic little face is hiding a brain that is secretly ranting, “and this hidden piss mum, THIS is what I really think of all of your hidden zucchini”. Or perhaps I’m just reading a bit too much into it?

Often I get asked about how much subterfuge goes into my meals. Do I TELL my kids what they’re really eating?

The answer is yes and no. When they first sit down and see something pleasing and smell something delicious, I’m not going to kill the mood by blurting, “hope you enjoy the mushrooms”. But once they’re finished, or if they ask mid-meal, I happily let them know what ingredients they’re gobbling up. Since I’m past the emergency, early days of absolute food rejection, I’ve now moved onto food education, which is a really important second stage. I need my kids to know now, that a meal is more than a single ingredient. That even an ingredient that they don’t THINK they like, can be combined with other ingredients in truly tasty ways that they DO like.

So yes, I DO tell my kids what they’re eating. It’s a vital part of teaching them that healthy food is part of the every day and something to be celebrated and enjoyed. And once your kids are eating a wider range of meals, it’s a good time to start with the wider education at your place. Get them talking ingredients, teach them how to choose good produce, encourage them to help out with little tasks in the kitchen.

And perhaps one day soon, they’ll even be big enough to start cleaning the bathroom.

Wee little meatloaves (boom tish!!).



Individual meat loaves

These are an easy to make vegie-smuggling basic. They store in the fridge for several days, can be cut up for sandwiches or wraps and crumbled into baked potatoes. And they freeze really well too.

Canola oil cooking spray
2 slices multigrain bread
1 carrot, peeled, roughly chopped
1 zucchini, roughly chopped
Handful of green beans, ends removed, halved
3 spring onions, roughly chopped
2 frozen chopped spinach cubes (about 50g), thawed, OR a big handful of English spinach, finely chopped
500g beef mince
2 tbsp tomato chutney
1 tsp soy sauce
(optional)
1 egg
Black pepper

Preheat oven to 180C. Spray a 12-hole muffin pan with cooking spray and line with paper cases.

Use a stick blender to do the chopping for you. Start with the bread. Make your breadcrumbs and add to your mixing bowl. Then chop the carrots then zucchini, then the beans and spring onions, adding to a mixing bowl each time.

Use your hands to combine the remaining ingredients. Divide the mix into 12 portions and press firmly into your muffin tray.

Bake for 20 minutes or until browned on top and cooked through. Serve with salad, steamed corn cobs and tomato sauce.

MAKES 12

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