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Happy Father’s Day!

Wait, what did you say?! Father’s day was two weeks ago?!

I’m just kidding. I actually celebrated Father’s Day on the third Sunday of June  and made dinner for my dad. And my family. I didn’t just feed my dad.

Being the sort of girl who has tons of ideas to put on a celebratory menu, but is seriously impaired at whittling them down into something feasible, I decided that I would stick to something simple.

Now, unlike my mom and grandpa, my dad doesn’t like sweet things. He doesn’t like cake. Or cookies. Or ice cream…which leaves my repertoire at…nothing.

So, I got out my handy dandy notebook, and jotted down a couple of things my dad might like. As a rule of thumb, I’ve figured out that guys really like meat, which meant that it had to be the feature of the meal. But as my dad is master of slab-of-meat cooking in the house, steak and salmon were surely out of the question, especially as my experience with cooking  meat is thimble-sized.

Luckily for my tender and un-meaty hands, I came across a recipe for apple pie, which inspired me to make a beef meat pie studded with red bullet chillies (though my dad doesn’t like sweets, we are both absolutely coco for chilli).

Instead of the six course dinner that I imagined, I made a lovely Aussie Meat Piesalad with dressing and taters. That’s po-tae-toes. You can boil ‘em, mash’em or stick ‘em in a stew. I mashed them good, Samwise Gamgee. I mashed them goo-od!

Blabbering aside, let’s make some pie!

First of all, I love my glass baking dishes. It means I never really have to make a pie crust, which not only saves me tons of time, but also makes the food way healthier, since there is usually truckloads of butter hidden in those  crusts. Either way, some simple premade puff pastry will result in a deliciously  flaky crust.

You’ll also notice that I use my glass baking dishes for brownies. This is because when you grease them, they’re wonderfully non-stick so that I never have to use greaseproof paper, which doesn’t really seem to available here. Also, they’re easy to clean, and look super pretty!

Anyways, you’ll want to dice some onions really small. Because this recipe uses beef mince, and not chunks of beef, you want the onions to be indistinguishable from the meat when you’re eating the pie. While you’re at it, finely chop three cloves of garlic and two or three red bullet peppers. They look a bit like this. They’re really small. Like…well, bullets.

Stir fry your finely chopped onions until they’re yummy and sort of translucent, then throw your beef mince, chilli and garlic in. Keep cooking until your beef is nicely browned. I actually precooked the beef and garlic so that I would have less to do on the day, and  because the beef needed to be cooked while it was still fresh.

Combine 1 tbsp of cornstarch with an equal amount of beef stock. If you actually have real beef stock, that’s great. Your pie will taste amazing. If that sort of thing isn’t just laying around your house, a beef stock cube will also work, and your pie will still taste amazing. Cornstarch is usually used as a thickener, so that the sauce from the beef in your pie will be thick instead of watery. Now put that aside, or your beef will burn.

To your beef, add in the rest of the beef stock, Worcestershire sauce and tomato paste. Stir well to combine, then taste it. If it’s not salty enough, add some Vegemite. However, my beef was already salted, and I used a beef stock cube, so my filling was already plenty salty.

Add in the cornflour mixture, then stir well to combine again. Bring it to a boil, then simmer on low heat for about ten minutes, or until the sauce is thick and has a gravy-like consistency. While it’s simmering, preheat your oven to 220°C and take out your package of puff pastry to defrost. Using a sharp knife and the pan as a guideline, cut puff pastry about 1cm larger than the pan. Wait for it to soften before removing it from the plastic.

By this time, your filling should be about ready, so tip it into the pan and even out the filling with a spoon. Peel off the puff pastry and cover the filling, folding in any sides that are too large.

Beat an egg, then brush onto top of pie. All that’s left to do is bake for about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, make your mashed potatoes.

By the way, this is the professional way to fish potatoes out of the pot.

I like lots of pepper in my mashed potatoes, especially freshly ground pink peppercorns. Extra cute!

Stop. Check out your awesome french manicure.

Start. Make salad, with dressing of your choice. I made a Greek Salad Dressing with olive oil, garlic and balsamic vinegar (more on this next time!)

Pop open a bottle of red wine, and fill your plate with a scrumptious dinner!

P.S. I always find it helpful to make short, cooking notes.

Spicy Aussie Meat Pie

Ingredients:

  • 400g beef mince, defrosted
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp cornstarch
  • 3/4c beef stock or 1 beef stock cube
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp Vegemite (optional)
  • 2-3 red bullet chilies (optional)
Crust:
  • 1 sheet puff pastry
  • 1 small egg, lightly beaten

Method:

  1. Heat oil in saucepan at medium-high heat. Add in garlic and onions. Stir fry onions until soft and translucent (approx 3-4 minutes).
  2. Add beef mince to the pan, and cook until brown.
  3. In a small bowl, combine cornstarch and 1 tbsp beef stock. Stir well.
  4. To the saucepan, add remaining beef stock, Worcestershire sauce, tomato paste and Vegemite (to taste). Stir well to combine.
  5.  Add cornflour mixture and stir well. Bring filling to a boil, then simmer on low heat for about 10 minutes until thick. Remove puff pastry from freezer.
  6. Preheat oven to 220ºC. Using a sharp knife, cut puff pastry to the correct size.
  7. Fill the pan with the filling and even out with a spoon (as in, press it down, not eat all the uneven bits). Place the puff pastry on top of the filling, folding in any sides that are too big.
  8. Brush puff pastry with beaten egg.
  9. Bake approx 20 minutes, or until puff pastry has puffed up, and is browned at the top.
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the Belated Chinese New Year post: how to wrap dumplings

I’m sorry! This is so typical of me. To post for a holiday two days late, but you will get used to it, dear readers because I assure you this will happen again and again. That’s just the sort of writer I am. 🙂

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Dumplings are pretty much the iconic Chinese food. Specifically outside of China and loads of people think that wrapping dumplings requires some magical skill that only Asian people possess. Ha. Ha ha. Hahahahahaha.

Yeah right. This is easy stuff. Even my friend’s cousin’s hamster’s best friend’s great aunt’s pool boy could do this.

But because of this, dumplings in places like Australia can sell for a ridiculous amount. At $1 AUS per dumpling, I could make a fortune. All I’d have to do is price them at at 1 cent lower than all the other places and I can forget about having to take HL chemistry!

So without further ado, let’s have a belated Chinese New Year with

Dumplings!

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You start out with the dumpling wrapper thing. We usually make our own, but as we were making them in Singapore, there wasn’t exactly room to roll out our own dough so we stuck with store-bought which wasn’t bad, but they were really small.

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This is a truly awful picture. I’m sorry, guys ):

Because we used store-bought wrappings, they were already floured and thus the sides won’t be sticky enough for you to actually press them into shape. Sooo, have a teacupful of water nearby for you to dip your finger in and run along in a semi-circle across the far end of your wrapper. This makes it nice and sticky (and soggy).

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Now take your filling (ground meat + veggies. I don’t have time to go into this) and plop some on your wrapper. Never listen to people who tell you to use a tablespoon or whatever to get an exact amount of filling. They’re being ridiculous. We’re wrapping dumplings, not doing rocket science. Just use what looks right as long as the filling doesn’t look like it’s about to devour the wrapper or look like a floating island in an expanse of dough, it’s all good.

Besides, a little mish-mash in size gives your dumplings character :). It’s also a lot faster if don’t measure it out every. single. time.

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Okay, so take the edge of the wrapper closest to you with your thumb and forefinger and just pinch it firmly to the opposite side so you have the semi-circle above.

See? I told you this was easy.

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Okay, now this is the “hard” part. Slide your index finger onto the right side of your pinched part and taking the outer edge, fold it towards your middle pinch, then pinch it together. This is pretty hard to explain. There’s a better picture of what I’m going to say.

However, once you’ve got this simple fold mastered, you’re practically set because the rest of the wrapping is just repeating this 3 more times!

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So add your second fold using the same method next to your first one. It should look something like this…without the extremely weird hand angle.

Make sure all your folds are facing the outside!! Otherwise you won’t get that nice crescent shape and that my friend,  is a fact.

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This picture probably demonstrates how to do the fold better than I could ever explain using words. All you have to do is repeat the folds on the other side of the dumpling. I normally still use my right hand to do this. My left one is only in the picture because I needed one hand to hold the camera.

Yum yum, the dumpling looks so good! You can see the almost-full plate of dumplings in the background. I love lining dumplings up all nice and organised on the plate.

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Ta-daa! That wasn’t so hard, was it?? It’s only really a couple of folds. Yeah, your first dumpling probably isn’t looking so good, but you’ll get used to it super fast. My dumpling up top doesn’t look so perky either.

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Yay! A completed mountain of dumplings! One of my favourite parts is throwing them into the pot of boiling water. Bahahaha!

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Toss your dumplings into a pot of boiling water (don’t worry, no live lobsters here) and boil them until they’re floating.

Yes, I am aware they look uncannily like brains…but they’re delicious. The zombies from Plants vs. Zombies would approve.

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Aaand my second favourite part. Eating the dumplings. They were super super yummy and cooked just right. I think I actually really like the mini-sized ones. It’s kind of like fun-sized, you know? Like how candy bars always taste better fun-sized than in a big bar 😀

have a Happy Chinese New Year!