September. The busiest month of my year, after the Christmas period. September plays host to Father’s Day, Paul’s birthday, Paul’s three siblings’ birthdays, lunch dates, dinner dates… I could go on.
For a homebody who relishes the feline-lifestyle of lazing around at home in my trackies at least one day of the weekend, September is busy, yet always fun – minus the part where I didn’t blog, at all, in September.
[clockwise from top-left] Cheeseburger with Japanese topping at Milk Bar by Cafe Ish | Sometimes I crave a Choc Berry Protein Smoothie | Zucchini Pizza from Agape Organic Food Truck at Better Homes & Gardens Live
Along with the busy weekends, I feel I can partially blame Game of Thrones for my lack of spare (i.e. blogging) time. I was up to book 3 in the series and just couldn’t put it down. There were times when I thought to myself, ‘You have several draft posts! Start writing!’, but I just had to know what happened next in Westeros!
So I apologise, once again, for my infrequent blogging, but I’m here now… and I definitely recommend getting into Game of Thrones, both the TV series and the books (titled A Song of Ice and Fire), if you aren’t already hooked.
Now, onto September’s food highlights…
Great with steak, and baked eggs too!
“So, what do you want to do for your birthday? Where do you want to go? I’ve got three restaurant suggestions and menus for you to look at. Where do you want to go? Do you want Japanese, or Italian, or…?” I asked Paul, several times in the lead up to his birthday this year.
As someone who likes advance notice for any social plans that include me, I have a habit of repeatedly asking Paul, who is carefree about these things, about future plans. He calls it nagging, but I just find his non-decision making ways baffling at times
Eventually, on the Saturday morning of his birthday weekend, Paul responded, “You know, I’d really just love it if you cooked me a steak for dinner”.
Well then! That I could do, with minimal preparation time. Compared to the crazy Bombe Alaska he requested last year, a simple steak was a relief.
Paul’s birthday cake: Hummingbird Cake [recipe here]
Satine & Paul | Paul’s birthday present from his siblings – awesome!
My favourite sauce to eat with meat is a fresh salsa verde. This Italian cold sauce, green and full of fresh herbs, is so easy to prepare. The mix of herbs gives an intense and delicious flavour which goes so well with a good steak.
As I wanted a great-tasting, good-quality steak, I popped into the Haverick Meats Saturday store for a whole piece of grass-fed scotch fillet. At $16.90/kg, my piece came to around $35 and was quickly sliced into 11 steaks. The quality, flavour, and price of that meat is so much better than what you’d get for $24/kg of Coles supermarket steak.
Steak, Rosemary Roast Potatoes, Salsa Verde
This recipe is adapted from Jamie Oliver. The measurements are guidelines and up for interpretation, so go via taste, for example, I omitted the anchovies, because I hate anchovies, and the gherkins, just because I didn’t have any at hand.
- 1½–2 cloves of garlic, peeled
- 1 small handful of capers
- 2 large handfuls of flat-leaf parsley, leaves picked
- 1 bunch of fresh basil, leaves picked
- 1 handful of fresh mint, leaves picked
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 8 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Finely chop the garlic, capers, and herbs and put them into a bowl. Add the mustard and vinegar.
- Slowly stir in the olive oil until you achieve the right consistency.
- Taste, and balance the flavours with freshly ground black pepper, a bit of salt and maybe a little more vinegar.
8 Steps to the Perfect Steak, by Chophouse
Sometimes I just pan-fry my steak and that’s that, but when I’m not in a weeknight-hunger mood, the best results come from cooking my steak the way I was taught at Chophouse’s Meat Masterclass last year.
The pan-fry/oven method always produces a nice crust and an evenly cooked centre. These cooking times are for medium to medium rare steaks, approximately 1-1.5inch thick, so you may need to adjust your oven cooking duration depending on your steak thickness and how well-done you like it cooked.
- Take the steak out of the fridge 20 minutes prior to cooking, to bring to room temperature.
- Set the oven to 200C.
- Heat a thick-bottomed frying pan to hot (no oil).
- Season steak with olive oil and salt flakes.
- Place the steak in the hot pan (do not add any more oil) and cook for 1 1/2 minutes on each side, turning only once.
- Place pan in oven for 4 minutes. Remove steak from oven, but do not turn oven off, and rest for 8 minutes on a rack in a warm place.
- Place back in oven on pan for 1 minute to reheat.
Rosemary Roast Potatoes
This is how I cook my roast potatoes for a crunchy outer with a creamy centre. I use small chat potatoes, skin left on, because their size is perfect once chopped in half.
- Heat oven to 200C. Removes the leaves from a handful of rosemary sprigs, and finely, or even a little roughly, chop them.
- Wash 1kg small chat potatoes and slice in half. Place in a large saucepan with a pinch of sea salt and cover with cold water. Bring to the boil, then reduce to simmer for around 15 minutes or until partially cooked (so that a knife can just smoothly pierce the centre).
- Drain potatoes, return them to the pot and shake over a low heat for 10-30 seconds, just until the moisture has evaporated. Pour in a few lugs of extra virgin olive oil, Jamie Oliver style, then add the chopped rosemary, a few pinches of sea salt flakes, and freshly ground black pepper. Ensure the potatoes are thoroughly coated in the olive oil and rosemary.
- Transfer the potatoes to 1 or 2 large baking trays, making sure they aren’t overcrowded, then roast for 45 minutes, or until golden and crunchy.
Baked Eggs and Toast with Salsa Verde
Slightly adapted from Not Quite Nigella
Since purchasing terracotta ramekins from Victoria’s Basement, I’ve become hooked on baked eggs Not Quite Nigella-style. Rich tomato base, chorizo, fetta, olives, garlic… These baked eggs are DELICIOUS! One day I had them for breakfast and dinner.
Thanks to some cooking tips from Chef Jamie Thomas at The Carrington, my baked eggs are cooking with set egg white and a runny egg yolk – perfect for dipping into with crusty bread spread with salsa verde.
- 400g tin chopped tomatoes
- 4 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 garlic clove, very thinly sliced
- 1.5-2 cured or dried chorizo sausages, sliced very thinly (if you use fresh chorizo, you might need to fry the slices first to ensure that they are cooked through)
- 80g feta cheese
- 16 olives
- 4 free range eggs
- Salt and pepper
- Bread, to serve (I used apple cider & garlic bread from Adriano Zumbo)
- Salsa verde, to serve
- Preheat oven to 220C. Combine the tinned tomatoes, tomato paste, olives, garlic, salt, and pepper in a microwave-safe bowl. Cover and microwave until steaming hot (you can cook the sauce on the stove of course, I’m just saving time and pot-washing).
- Divide sauce into 4 wide ramekins. Top with discs of chorizo and pieces of feta cheese, then create a well in the centre. Break an egg in the well of each ramekin. Bake for 10-15 minutes, or until whites look set, then finish until the griller for 1 minute. Serve with char grilled bread spread with salsa verde, or simply garnish with chopped fresh parsley.
Our Edible Balcony Garden
Fed up with paying far too much for fresh herbs that don’t last a week, last weekend we finally began our edible balcony garden. We still haven’t been able to agree on a design for a vertical balcony garden, so our garden is living in basic pots for now.
We’ve started with tomato, rocket, kale, rosemary, parsley, coriander, and, of course, catnip. Satine and Isis go crazy with dried catnip toys, and the fresh catnip has taken them both to another level of crazy.
Do you grow your own herbs or vegetables? What are your tips for growing an edible garden? And are you a Game of Thrones fan?
Temporary set-up until we agree on our balcony design
Satine stands guard
I also cooked a goat curry this month – delicious, but I never want to butcher a goat leg again, ever.