Monday, February 29, 2016

Slow Cooked Barbecue Beef Brisket

Well I have admit when we purchased some beef brisket on special I wasn't quite sure what to do with it.  It's not a common cut here in Australia however I did know that it is widely cooked in America therefore finding a recipe or some ideas on cooking it wouldn't be to had thanks to my good friend Google.

After much learning,  many recipes and then some more, I decided to wing it and cook something very loosely based on a combination of recipes.  So after putting it all together, putting the slow cooker on I crossed my fingers and went to work.  The outcome would be a surprise, whether good or bad, when I walk back in the door tonight.

And a surprise it was... a beautiful aroma had encompassed the house.  Great I knew that I had nailed the sauce element but what about the meat?  What about this brisket -  that cut of meat that I have never cooked with before?

The brisket itself, is a cut of meat from the breast or lower chest and is normally tough cut of meat. There seems to be two very popular methods to cooking this interesting cut.  Firstly the meat is rubbed with a spice rub or marinated, then cooked slowly over indirect heat from charcoal or wood, hence somewhat smoking the meat. Brisket is also cooked in a slow cooker on a low setting for usually 8 hours per 2 kgs of meat.  This also tenderizes the meat due to the slow cooking method and the fact it is normally enveloped in a sauce to keep it tender.

Now of course I ended up using a mixture of both methods - I rubbed it in a spice mix, then put it in the slow cooker covering it with a sauce and set the timer for 8 hours on low.  Once cooked I gave the family the choice of sliced meat with mash and vegetables or burritos and looking at the picture you can automatically tell what they chose..... burritos!!  So I actually shredded the cooked beef and then mixed through the sauce rather than slicing it.

However way you plan to eat this I am sure you will enjoy.  It had a wonderful depth of tomatoes with the right amount of flavour and heat from the spices.  The liquid smoke lightly laced the sauce with gave it quite an authentic American/Mexican style that we are delivered here in Australia.

Slow Cooked Barbecue Beef Brisket

Serves: 8
SmartPoints per Serve: 8

3 tablespoons packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
1 tablespoon chili powder
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black  pepper
2 kilograms beef brisket, all visible fat trimmed
2 red onions, small dice
1 440 gram tin diced tomatoes
3/4 cups tomato ketchup
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
3/4 cup beef stock
1/2 teaspoon liquid smoke
1 tablespoon cornflour
2 tablespoon water 

In small bowl, mix brown sugar, paprika, chili powder, cumin, garlic powder, salt and pepper.

Place brisket in slow cooker and rub mixture all over brisket.  Cover with diced onion.

In another small bowl, mix the tomatoes, ketchup, apple cider vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, stock and liquid smoke. Pour over brisket along with broth.

Cover and cook on the low heat for 8 hours or until meat is tender.

Transfer brisket to cutting board and let stand 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, place all the sauce in a small saucepan.  Combine the cornflour and water.  Add to sauce and stir to combine.  Heat over medium heat, until boiling and slightly thickened.

Thinly slice brisket or shred; transfer to serving plate. Spoon sauce over top or if shredded mix through.

(Click here for a printable version of this recipe)

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Creamy Sun-dried Tomato Chicken Florentine Pasta

Tonight we wanted some good ol' comfort food but it needed to be quick and easy for a mid week wonder.  At the moment there never seems to be enough hours in each day.  Even our well planned days are not being executed like we would wish but then again we are making the most out of each day so that is the most important thing, right?

So many times I have mentioned having a craving for comfort food.  I understand that everyone's comfort food is different.  For us I do believe it is pasta (of any description).  What's your comfort food?

Speaking of pasta that's what was served up tonight.  This creamy pasta dish was a perfect fit with minimal ingredients and fuss to put a well received meal on the table.  A cheesy sauce laced with sun-dried tomatoes, spinach and chicken pieces was filling and while very yummy satisfied even my fussiest eater!  I have one child that does not like the texture of cooked baby spinach nor does she like sun-dried tomatoes but her plate was pretty much licked clean.

Creamy Sun-dried Tomato and Chicken Florentine Pasta

Serves: 6
SmartPoints per serve: 12

250 grams pasta of your choice
2 tablespoons butter
500 grams chicken fillet, all visible fat removed, diced
1 brown onion, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon crushed garlic
1/2 cup No Oil sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
4 cups Baby Spinach leaves, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup chicken stock
3/4 cup low fat cream
3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil Cook pasta according to package directions until al dente. Drain and set aside.

Heat butter in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add chicken and onions. Cook for 5 - 7 minutes or until chicken is slightly browned and cooked through. Add garlic and sun-dried tomatoes and cook for another 2-3 minutes.

Add cream and stock; stir to incorporate. Toss in chicken and cook for 2-3 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Mix in spinach and cook until wilted.

Pour over pasta, sprinkle with Parmesan cheese, toss and serve.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Slow Cooked Asian Beef Ribs

When you are time poor nothing is more rewarding than working in the front door to the smell of dinner already cooked (or cooking). Thank God for Slow Cookers, right?

This recipe had very minimal effort required first thing this morning but had maximum flavour when it came to sitting down and eating after a very busy day indeed.  Beside work there was also football training and picking up my car from the mechanics after having the brakes down, along with a very fitting funeral service for my Uncle Ted.  My uncle passed peacefully last Wednesday and his final farewell was today.

Needless to say walking in the door was bliss to know I only had to boil rice!

These ribs were melt in your mouth!  The tender juicy meat falling of the bone enveloped with a slightly sweet sauce with the undertones of chilli and star anise - it's a flavour combination that I love. 

I guess you could quite easily use pork rashers or ribs and achieve the same outcome or even perhaps chicken cutlets or lamb shanks as this sauce would definitely compliment any meat.

Slow Cooked Asian Beef Ribs
(Recipe adapted from
Serves: 8
SmartPoints per Serve: 11

2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons ginger, minced
1 tablespoon garlic, crushed
1⁄4 cup hoisin sauce
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
3 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons sesame oil
1 cup fresh orange juice
2 whole star anise
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
2 tablespoons sake
1 teaspoon five-spice powder
1⁄2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (or to suit your taste)
2 kilograms short beef ribs
1 brown onion, diced
3 large carrots, diced
2 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon cornflour
1 bunch coriander, roughly chopped

Mix together soy sauce, ginger, garlic, hoisin sauce, Worcestershire sauce, brown sugar, sesame oil, orange juice, star anise, oyster sauce, sake, five spice and cayenne pepper in the slow cooker vessel.

Add beef ribs, onion and carrots.  Toss to ensure all beef ribs are coated in the sauce mix.

Cover and cook on low for 8 hours.

Preheat oven to 150 degrees Celsius.  Remove ribs and vegetables to an oven proof dish and place in oven to keep warm.

Pour sauce into a separate jug. Allow fat to separate and skim as much off the top.

Place sauce in a small saucepan.  Bring to the boil and reduce to medium heat.  Combine water and cornflour together.  Mix combined cornflour into sauce, continually stirring, until slightly thickened.

Pour sauce over ribs, sprinkle with coriander and serve with steamed rice (add 4 SP per 1/2 cup, if desired).

(Click here for a printable version of this recipe)

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Hunan Beef with Cumin


Hooray for me - I have done it.  I've sat down, eaten and enjoyed our dinner and then amazingly found time to share it with you.  Sorry for the long delay but the new job which I started on the 18th of January has had my head in a spin along with all the multitude of things we have been doing recently.  I actually thought I would of had a smooth transition to the new job and I did.  In fact I now have more time due to less work hours but yet I seem to be struggling to cope with finding "ME" time.  

To be totally honest I cannot believe that we are more than half way through February... YIKES!!
Anyways I have to say since the beginning of the year our eating has been out of control (definitely no dieting happening in our house) so its been a food fest which, of course, means lots of comfort foods, lots of quick dinners, and the odd takeaway here and there!!  We definitely need to get back on track.
Tonight I wanted something full of flavour, easy, quick and of course, healthy.  Well at least healthier than I have been eating.

As well know by everyone, we love cooking Asian style dishes so this one from the Hunan Region excited our tastebuds by just reading about it.  The Hunan Region is located in South Central China, south of the middle course of the Yangtze River, and south of Lake Dongting.
Hunan cuisine, known for it's abundant use of chillies, garlic and shallots, is also known as Xiang cuisine. It is one of the Eight Great Traditions of Chinese cuisine and is well known for its hot spicy flavour, fresh aroma and deep colour.  Hunan cuisine is often spicier than most other Chinese dishes because or the pure chili content.  The meals also contain a larger variety of fresh ingredients, and generally tends to be oilier.

After modifying parts of the recipe to reduce the oil content without compromising on the flavour we were happy with the outcome... tender beef strips, crispy vegetables with a sauce bursting with flavours.  Combinations of chilli, garlic, ginger and cumin!!  Magnificent even if a little on the hot side.... but not to the point of breathing fire!

Hunan Beef with Cumin
(Recipe adapted from Serious Eats)

Serves: 6
SmartPoints per Serve: 9

2 tablespoon Shaoxing wine or medium-dry sherry
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon cornflour
500 grams skirt steak or steak of your choice, cut into thin strips against the grain
1/2 cup canola oil
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, peeled and minced
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 fresh red chilies, stems and seeds discarded, finely chopped
2 teaspoons dried chili flakes
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 brown onion, sliced
1 red capsicum, thinly sliced
100 grams snow peas
1 bunch coriander, roughly chopped
1 teaspoon sesame oil

Whisk together wine, soy sauce, cornflour, and one tablespoon water in medium-sized bowl. Add beef to marinade, mix with hands, and let sit for at least 15 minutes at room temperature.

Pour oil into large wok. Heat oil in wok over high heat.  Add beef and cook for two minutes, tossing gently. Remove beef with tongs, and drain on paper towel.

Pour out all but three tablespoons of oil.
Turn heat to high again, and once lightly smoking, add ginger, garlic, chilies, chili flakes, and cumin. Stir constantly with wooden spoon for about 15 seconds.

Add onions and capsicum, stir fry for a further 3 minutes, continually tossing.  Once starting to soften return the beef back to wok.  Add snow peas and coriander.  Cook until beef starts to sizzle, about 1 minute. Stir well and transfer beef to a large plate.

Drizzle sesame oil on top. Serve beef with white rice, if desired.

(Click here for a printable version of this recipe)