Friday, October 21, 2016

A rainy Spring day

It is raining today.  Again.  Properly raining, can't really go outside raining.  Last night the wind blew and blew, ripping branches off trees and then the rain began.  The wanton weather gods have thrown us some challenges lately but I have really had enough of just tidying up the mess made by the winds, and not being able to mow the lawns because it is just too wet.  
Here is a photo from my walk yesterday:
One extreme to the other.  It all looks lovely and spring-like and bucolic but don't be deceived.  Even though there is no longer surface water lying around, the paddocks are sodden; boggy and wet to the point of saturation.  No outdoor expedition can be undertaken without gumboots, which is weird when it it 22 degrees.  But I don't want to complain.  After so many dry years it is a relief to finally have a wet spring....hard to believe but I was watering the garden this time last year (actually I started in September).  And the trees are loving it, the growth has been extraordinary.  This little chestnut tree that my friend Soph gave me was a pathetic stick that had been chewed by a possum last summer has taken off:
The lilacs have been magical
And the broad beans are taking on Jack and the Beanstalk proportions:
Speaking of which, I have discovered on my meanderings around the internet that you can eat the tender top leaves of broad beans and they are really quite delicious.  You can eat them raw, or add them to a hot dish and let them wilt or flash-fry them:
  The nights are still cold and every time I think that it's the last kindling collection or filling of the wood box another cold snap hits and we are lighting the fires again.  Which means you still have time to try these Asian Beef Cheeks, that are just so easy and very economical.  Which then leads me to my beef about is very expensive at the moment, up to $40 a kilo.  So expensive in fact that a couple of catering friends have said that they have to put a surcharge on it if someone wants it for a wedding.  There has been a lack of supply, but according to the husband who knows such things, there should soon be a correction, as lots of beef that would normally be exported is about to come onto the domestic market because it can't be sold overseas (too expensive).  The question is, will the drop in price be passed on to the consumer or will the wholesalers and meat processors just make more of a killing...literally?

But back to the beef cheeks.  I have made these a lot this winter for visiting groups, it is very easy and can be done ahead of time.


1.5 kgs beef cheeks (you can get them at the Meat Barn, local people)
2 large spring onions (5-6 small ones).  Mine are huge...not sure how or why they grow so me this is not a leek:
4 cm knob of ginger, grated
2 red chillies, chopped
4 cloves garlic, crushed
300g mushrooms, chopped
1/2 cup chinese rice wine
1 tblsp oyster sauce
2 tblsp soy sauce
1 cup beef stock
Sliced red chilli and coriander to garnish

Trim the fat from the beef cheeks...sometimes there is a thick, tough layer, try to get this off if you can.  Put them in a heavy casserole dish.

Preheat the oven to 130c.  
Heat a tablespoon of vegetable oil in a frying pan.  Chop the spring onions and put the white part into the pan.  Add the ginger, chilli, garlic and cook gently for a couple of minutes until softened.
Add the mushrooms and cook for about 5 minutes.  

Increase the heat and add the chinese rice wine, let it bubble for a minute or so.  Add the oyster sauce and soy sauce and stir.  Have a taste and if you are happy with it add it to the beef.  
Pour over the beef stock, cover and put into the oven.  Cook for 6-8 hours until the beef is very tender.

When it is cooked, I usually take the meat out and reduce the sauce by boiling it rapidly, or adding a tablespoon of cornflour mixed with a little water ( make sure the sauce is boiling and you stir it in well).  Taste and add more chilli or oyster or soy sauce if you wish.  Garnish with chilli, coriander and the green ends of the spring onions.  I often serve this with an asian slaw:
Here's a pic of the Asian Slaw I did for a group a while ago:

A few amusing things to watch:
And if you like a podcast, try My Open Kitchen, all about the food and country life.