Nigella’s Steak and Chips

I’ve recently been watching Nigellissima – Nigella Lawson’s new(ish) Italian cooking show. She’s so sweet to watch, and I love how she always showcases easy, yet delicious, recipes, that I usually have the ingredients for in the pantry.

(Speaking of pantries… how amazing is hers? And she has a freezer drawer in her kitchen island?? Oh, I want her kitchen so much)

Her ‘steak and chips’ really appealed to me straight away. The recipe for her chips are here. You cook the chips in cold oil. Which is interesting, because I learnt from Masterchef that you should start boiling root vegetables in cold water. Connection? I don’t know… any ideas??

In the end, I don’t think my chips were as crispy as hers. I was scared of over-cooking them, so I think they could have had a few more minutes. But, the flavour of chips was amazing – a little soggy, but divine. The garlic and herbs made such a difference.

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So, it’s an exceptionally large amount of oil. I usually shallow fry everything (mainly because I’m kinda scared of boiling oil). But for a special occasion I guess it’s ok. And heaps fewer steps that the usual par-boil and double-fry potato chip method – you just had to watch them. Which also means less dishes.

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The deep-fried oregano and sage are just delicious.

Then, she made a very simple steak. You fry the steak for two minutes on each side, then allow it to rest, again for two minutes on each side. But, when resting it, let it sit in a dressing of olive oil, splash of red wine vinegar, chilli flakes, oregano, and S&P.

Then, remove the steak and let some cherry tomatoes sit in the dressing for a few minutes. Slice up the steak, and plate it all together! Yum!

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How pretty are the lines on my steak?

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So colourful!

I really look forward to trying out more of her recipes. Please let me know if you have any recommendations!

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Thunder Tea Rice

Hawker centres are such a fantastic to sample the local Singaporean delights. Before going to Singapore, I did some perusing online, and found this intriguing blog on Thunder Tea Rice. I couldn’t wait to try it – it sounded so delicious, super healthy and includes tea!! Yay!

Thunder Tea Rice involves an oversized bowl of brown rice, with all sorts of delicious ingredients: sprouts, soy beans, peanuts, green vegies and dried anchovies. Plus, a bowl of a soupy green matcha tea with basil and mint mixed in. We bought the set meal, which also includes a huge piece of tofu encrusted with a yummy topping.

The brochure tells us that the dish is advantageous for health and weight management by increasing your metabolism and detoxification, as well as treating a number of nasty diseases. I particularly like their quote: “The tedious way of preparing Thunder Tea Rice dish also contributes as a physical work out especially during the hour-long grinding to make the Thunder Tea Rice paste”. Nice.

This dish was so amazing that we’ve replicated it twice since coming back only a few weeks ago! Zac made it for our masterchef 2.0 challenge. When Zac replicated it though, we did the paste in the blender!

If you are travelling to Singapore and want to try it out, you can find it in the Lau Pa Sat Hawker Centre – Stall 12. It’s easy to spot, as there’s a HUGE queue at lunchtime.

Masterchef Beijing 2.0

As Andy won our first ever Masterchef challenge, he was given the honour of determining the next challenge. Everyone was given a colour and a key ingredient.

I was given ‘blue’ and ‘pasta’ and I haven’t forgiven him yet!

Being pregnant, I’ve been very conscious of trying to eat as nutritionally sound as possible. But think of a naturally blue food… blueberries. And they’re kinda purple anyway. Now think of another… exactly. Our genetics naturally steer us clear of blue foods, as we assume that they are mouldy.

So, I just decided to go silly and had an ‘under the sea’ theme and go nuts with some food colouring. Let’s call it prep for future children’s birthday parties.

1st course was a Collins Class submarine made from cannelloni tubes, stuffed with ricotta, lemon juice, dill, celery, walnuts, lemon rind and yoghurt, topped with a bechamel sauce. Cheese on cheese. And it was actually quite yum, until I added blue food colouring and made it look gross.

2nd course was a gnocchi oyster. I resisted the temptation to turn the gnocchi blue (this was the last thing I cooked, and I was starting to think the baby might be coming out with a blue tinge by now) and instead made blue sea salt. The gnocchi is sitting on a puttanesca-style sauce. And I was actually happy with this course! (I used the same gnocchi recipe that I wrote about here).

3rd course was a disaster. I wanted to make a chocolate lasagne, with blue cake layers, which would then kinda look like a coral reef. But the pasta part really just made it weird. It would have been much better as just a blue blueberry cake with chocolate sauce. And I’m pretty sure the colouring made the cake taste weird.

These are a sample of each of the courses (entree, main and dessert). Nic made black food with potato, Zac made green with rice, Andy made orange with tofu and Michelle (the winner!) made red with white bean.

My overall favourite dish for the night was Michelle‘s white bean dessert – I can’t resist posting a photo since it was so beautifully presented:

If you’re interested in our first Masterchef Beijing challenge, you can find it here!

Masterchef Beijing

When Masterchef Australia finished for the year, I felt that there was a hole in my life. It’s slick. It’s addictive. It’s nail-bitingly tense. It makes you drool. And, it’s educational.

What better way to fill that hole but with more food!! So, we hosted a Masterchef challenge at our place. Every participant was given a mystery ingredient, and that ingredient had to star in 3 courses. We all voted, plus we had a guest judge, in case of any close calls.

The results were fantastic! We had such a wide variety of delicious food – way too much though. Next time, we need to invite extra guests as well.

We had a quite a few dietary restrictions within the group, which made it an extra challenge! By looking at the dishes, you can probably guess what they were.

My ingredient was ginger. For my entree, I made sushi with pickled ginger. When pickling ginger, if it’s young enough, it should naturally turn pink in the pickling process. Mine had no luck  though, so I cheated and used some food colouring. I did a sushi making course ages ago at my fave Japanese restaurant, Hatsune, and I’d been dying to try it out. I think it worked out pretty well! I filled the sushi with carrot, cucumber, daikon and fried enoki mushrooms.

Pickled ginger recipe from: http://www.rain.org/~hutch/ginger.html

My main course was fried tofu in a ginger broth. I really struggled with this one. I think I put a lot of extra thought into my dessert, and lost a bit of focus on the main. It was yummy, just nothing exciting.

My dessert was based around gingerbread. I made edible cups and spoons of gingerbread. Then I filled them with chocolate risotto. I’d seen Jamie Oliver make choccy risotto on TV, and had been dying to try it out. I topped the dish with candied ginger too!

Candied ginger from: http://www.davidlebovitz.com/2008/12/candied-ginger/

And here are some pics of what the other contestants cooked:

Andy‘s ingredient was carrot. He made carrot soup with baby carrot rolls, carrot ravioli with pickled carrots and carrot cake icecream with candied carrot. And, he was the champion of the day!

Michelle‘s ingredient was lemon. She made baked fennel stuffed with lemon, lemon risotto and lemon curd panna cotta.

Nic’s ingredient was chocolate. She made mexican chocolate soup, mole and jicama salad, followed by Ancho chilli and chocolate truffles.

Zac‘s ingredient was chilli. He made pan-fried salmon with chilli salsa, chickpea and chilli curry and chocolate chilli muffins.

As you can imagine, after all this food, it was nap time!