“Korean-style stir-fried beef (Bulgogi) from “Dinner”

Kirstin: So when I told our dinner guests that I was making this for dinner, they both became very excited. But because I had never had Bulgogi I had no idea what kind of a treat I was about to have. I made the marinade and sauce while Doctor Who was on and then got to the frying part of the beef. Melissa’s tip for cutting the beef involved freezing it for half an hour, which worked beautifully. Yes, I also had to source some mad Korean ingredients, but I love visiting our local Chinese supermarket and discovering new things.
Anyway, back to the food. Which was sensational. I mean seriously delicious. I served it with rice and in lettuce leaves, with optional garnish of coriander and jalapeno chilli. I literally cannot wait to make this again. It was perfect to share with others, littles and bigs alike and was a total treat as the flavours satisfied the whole mouth. I love Melissa Clark and her Asian recipes so very much. And at the end of the meal, I ordered a copy of this book for our guests so they could make it themselves.

“Korean-style stir-fried beef (Bulgogi) from “Dinner”

“Beefburgers” from “Flavour: Eat What You Love”

The entry is actually entitled “Five Ways with Beefburgers” so I can tell you that this testing family happily ate “Two Ways with Beefburgers.” We had original beefburgers (pictured above) and chorizo burgers.

First of all, my heartfelt thanks to Ruby for allowing us to have burgers– TWICE!– without guilt. We love a burger in this house, but it’s a been a good long while since we had a recipe for a burger that we could test in one of our featured cookbooks. Ruby also name checks Beyonce and Nicki Minaj in the introduction, which only makes me love Ruby, this cookbook and burgers all the more.

To be fair, you don’t really need a recipe to make a good burger. Obviously, you need to get the best mince possible because there’s so few other ingredients in it. But Ruby provides the Top Tip of grating the onion, rather than chopping it finely, which is such a great idea I’m just sorry I didn’t think of it first. By grating the onion, it melts into the meat when you cook it. In the past when I’ve tried my best to mince the onion finely, I usually lost interest in some point and ended up with onion bits that were far too large to ever melt into the burger. So I will be doing it this way forever more.

For the Chorizo Burgers, you add chopped chorizo to the mince, along with some smoked paprika. Again, this is a brilliant idea and was hugely popular with the entire table.

Needless to say, these were both winning nights. I have to reiterate my love for Ruby when she tells us we can eat what we love. On these two nights, we did, and everyone was very, very happy about that.

Cook’s Note: The eagle-eyed among you might notice that I make quite generous burgers. I don’t apologise for it (nor do I think Ruby would want me to). I tend to use about 350g per burger, which makes for a most satisfying size. Yum.

“Beefburgers” from “Flavour: Eat What You Love”

“Beef Rendang”” from “Flavour”


Kirstin: You know when you commit to a recipe that it is going to take several hours to make, that it has to really be worth it. This recipe is just that. I whizzed up the spices, fried it up with all the other ingredients and left it all to simmer for FOUR HOURS one Saturday afternoon. We all got very hungry as the smell it made while it was cooking was exquisite. And we ate it all up when I served it up. Bonus leftovers for tonight too, so total result.

“Beef Rendang”” from “Flavour”

“Featherblade Bourguignon” from “Gizzi’s Healthy Appetite”

IMG_2303I need to lay all my cards on the table right now: I’ve always hated beef stew. Sure, you can fancy it up by calling it Beef Bourguignoun, but it’s still stew. And I always thought, “Yuck.”

I’m not sure why– does anyone know why they hate perfectly reasonably foods– but I never could abide it. In our family, we always got to pick our favourite meal on our birthdays and my brother Tom always, always, ALWAYS picked stew. So I could count on being forced to eat it one day a year. Yuck.

In recent years, when my cooking became better and we became more adventurous, my husband (who also loves beef stew) encouraged me to try it again. I tried all sorts of variations, but the one that most sticks with me is the time I made the Julia Child version from her classic tome, “Mastering the Art of French Cooking” (a cookbook I highly recommend, by the way). I thought surely I would like that one. I sourced the best beef from our local butcher. I lovingly slaved over the dish for an entire afternoon. It even smelled good. But when I sat down and took my first bite, I thought, “Nope. Yuck.”

But to make a long story short, this beef stew, sorry Featherblade Bourguignon, was DELICIOUS. I did not sit down and think, “Nope. Yuck.” I thought, “Yes. Yum.”

It was, by a million miles, the best stew, sorry “Featherblade Bourguignoun” that I’ve ever had. I even reheated some the next day for my lunch. And I’m already planning on making it again for Sunday dinner. And again for when my parents happen to be here for Tom’s birthday, because even though he won’t be here (he’ll be home in North Carolina), I think it would make them happy to have beef stew, sorry “Beef Bourguignoun”, on that particular day since they had it on day so many times before.

That, my friends, is a successful recipe.

I’m really not sure why this one succeeded where so many before it had failed. But succeed it did.

If you want to make this yourself, maybe for your next Sunday lunch or once the autumn really settles in, click through this sentence to find the recipe in Google Books.

“Featherblade Bourguignon” from “Gizzi’s Healthy Appetite”

“Rump Steak ‘Stew’ ” from “Tom Kerridge’s Best Ever Dishes”

IMG_6054Tim: Well, this doesn’t look like any stew that I know.

Maureen: It’s true, though maybe that’s why I was keen to make it. As you know, I hate stew.

Tim: But I also made dumplings to go with it! This isn’t the type of stew that requires dumplings.

Maureen: No, it is not. But what do you think?

Andrew: It’s good, but I could do without the mushrooms.

Nicholas: I like the steak, but it could do without the spinach. You know how I feel about spinach.

Maureen: Your dislike of spinach has been made abundantly clear. I can’t understand it, since I love spinach, but there we are.

Tim: This is good, but really it’s just steak with some vegetables.

Maureen: Tom says in the introduction that it’s more a stew of flavours that you cook quickly, rather than a traditional stew that takes a long time. Saying that, at least this was one of the speedier meals in the book, which is good for a weeknight dinner. I would eat this again. Would you?

Tim: Yes, I would.

Andrew: Maybe.

Nicholas: I would, if it didn’t have the spinach in it.


“Rump Steak ‘Stew’ ” from “Tom Kerridge’s Best Ever Dishes”

“Pulled Beef Brisket in a Bun” from “Tom Kerridge’s Best Ever Dishes”

IMG_6107Want to make this yourself? The BBC has the recipe, which you’ll find by clicking through this sentence.

Maureen: This is the cover star of this month’s cookbook, you know.

Nicholas (11): Yum. Brisket.

Maureen: You know, I was never a fan of brisket until a few years ago. Now I love it. Though I did get repetitive stress injury from pounding out all the spices for the rub. But I think it was worth it.

Andrew (15): This is fantastic. I really love it.

Maureen: I have to note for the record that you guys don’t actually have the alcoholic-laden barbecue sauce. Only the normal stuff, that I bought off the shelf. I didn’t think you’d appreciate the strong taste of bourbon. Between this and the tart, I’m beginning to think that Tom Kerridge really loves the taste of alcohol in his food.

Tim: That much is obvious. What does everyone think the milk buns I made?

Maureen: Delicious. Having home-made bread always makes all the difference. The cole slaw is good too, even if the boys aren’t eating that.

Tim: That’s not a surprise, is it?

Maureen: Not a surprise, but still disappointing.

Tim: This is ALL GOOD. I’d give it 9 out 10 stars. Would eat again.

Andrew: Me too.

Nicholas: Me too.

Maureen: It’s unanimous. We will definitely be eating this again.


“Pulled Beef Brisket in a Bun” from “Tom Kerridge’s Best Ever Dishes”

“Beef Ragu and Courgetti” from “The Art of Eating Well”

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Anna: I’m making normal pasta for the kids. Would you like spaghetti or do you want to try the courgette spaghetti?

Peter: In for a penny and all that.

Anna Do you like this sauce Louis? It’s like sausage sauce. But a bit different.

Louis: I like it. Please can I have some more?

Peter: Isabella likes it too!

Anna: That’s good, because it’s got lots of grated carrots in it.

Peter: So how is it different from your normal bolognese?

Anna: It’s not really. Beef mince, onions, wine, tomatoes, cook for hours, add grated carrots… Normally the carrots are added at the beginning as a sofrito, so I guess that’s the only difference. It makes it a little more healthy, not that you can tell. I would definitely make this again. It was certainly very easy.

Peter: You can tell this isn’t spaghetti.

Anna: Yes, you can. I’m confused by this courgette spaghetti. They say to warm it up in butter but I wonder whether I should have blanched it in boiling water for a minute, just to soften it. Though that might have made it mushy and horrible. I need to give it another go. So far, unconvinced.


“Beef Ragu and Courgetti” from “The Art of Eating Well”

“Vietnamese Beef with Rice Vermicelli and Crispy Vegetables” from “A Change of Appetite”

Anna: This tastes and smells just like authentic Vietnamese. Or the Vietnamese food we used to eat in Sydney. Making this has taken me straight back to that restaurant we went to in Glebe with Edyta and Mark. We had the summer rolls and I’d never had anything like them before. Isn’t it brilliant that a smell can take me back to seven years ago like it was yesterday!

Peter: It does taste pretty authentic. It’s delicious.

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Anna: It is, isn’t it? I love this. I love this type of food. If there wasn’t so much bloody chopping involved I’d make it every week.

Peter: Well I do like a good noodle so I’m happy for you to make it any time.



“Vietnamese Beef with Rice Vermicelli and Crispy Vegetables” from “A Change of Appetite”

“Rich Beef and Mushroom Stew” from “Mary Berry Cooks”

Anna: Dinner time!

Louis: Mummy has beef stew, Daddy and Louis have beef stew… what is Isabella eating?

Anna: Beef stew, all whizzed up! I think the porcini mushrooms are a bit lost….

Louis: More mushrooms Mummy!

Anna: Here, have some of mine.

Peter: Isabella can’t get enough of this.

Anna: It’s the first time she’s had beef and she’s clearly loving it. Must have been all those burgers I ate while I was pregnant.

Peter: I think I can guess who is going to get the leftovers.


“Rich Beef and Mushroom Stew” from “Mary Berry Cooks”