Category Archives: Tomato

Beef ‘n’ Barra

A fine name for a pub, though The Buff’n’Barra might be more appropriate here in the Top End. Better keep that from the ‘Hoff’, who’s apparently going to build a bar somewhere around here Casablanca style. Anyway, a classic leftover concoction here. We had an amazing sunset barbecue on Simon’s wee chunk of land here in Katherine, a 200acre nature playground. I took along a side of Barra kindly given by Mel, and we threw that on the hot plate over charcoal with no adornment. Most of it got left as the shoulder of pork was beautiful and even crackled successfully over hot coals. So tonight, on my tod, I made an Indonesian flavour noodle soup. I had some deeply amazing beef stock from some roast beef ribs (roasted 5 hrs) and a left over bit of ‘roo thigh bone. To this, some insane homemade paste from out local shop in Wanguri, weirdly, which must have chillies, shallots and balacan (fermented prawn brick) amongst other unknowns. I had some leftover fatty rib meat, the barra, a mushroom, some rice and mung bean noodles and some spinach and rocket mix which I just put in the end to wilt. Washed down with Vale/Dark as shown. Glorious.

Shona picked up a bag of beef bones at the supermarket on the tip off from an Italian guy who was prcuring offal of some kind, though I think he suggested these were for the dog. Little does he know the joyous lubricant that resides in dem bones- which is odd, given osso bucco, (later). Maybe $6 for the pile shown, and what a marrow harvest, wow. I used some on a pizza, which I think I just served plain. I do remember it was the finest pizza night ever. What to use on next……?

The bones I roasted and made a spiffing stock. Maybe next time I’ll do Fergus Henderson’s signature roast marrow bone salad. Oooh, some sourdough to smear that on would be divine…….


The dessert pizza reappeared, but this incarnation included some rather sour plums with a nice dark skin. I was really chuffed with how this turned out. The plums were delicious. It’s amazing how some fruits just explode into life after cooking, the skins seem to be the treasure box of flavour. I’m never that taken with blueberries until you cook the buggers. A decent sprinkle of vanilla sugar and some butter for, well, obvious reasons. Maybe I should try this with a

Shona found a recipe for ‘Tuscan rabbit’. I don’t have it to hand, but bloody hell, it was amazing. Ah, here it is. I’m usually a bit suspect of tomatoey concoctions, I often find them a bit too bloody tomatoey, allowing not much other flavour to express. But this was bloody amazing. Lovely sweetness from the onions, and the fennel was a subtle background too. Very nice. Shona made a huge amount of sauce so this has reappeared with some ‘luv a duck’ pork and duck fennel sausages. They are very fine meaty sausages, more suited to this cooking than a bbq. Definitely not a snag or banger.


Now Woolies has a few things over Coles, and these veal osso bucco are one of them. The last OB’s I did was beef, and it suggested to me why veal is preferable for the wet stove fry method. The beef ones quite dried up and contorted by the time they were edible. These veal beauties were cooked in 1.5 hrs or so, stayed moist and didn’t buckle up over themselves. Just slow cooked adding only white wine, and then some bonkers purple carrots to cook as shown. Should have used the excess marrow above for a risotto Milanese……



Indian Breakaway

No, not a summary of the enormously successful partition of India, nor the reversal of the Indian subcontinental  tectonic plate drift, but possibly the first time I have made chapati.

For the sake of ease, we took away some keema (beef mince and peas) and chickpeas on our camping trip. They were cooked by Shona as per Madhur Jaffrey’s classic, Invitation to Indian Cooking, which is about as old as me, a fine vintage.

We had a chopfest at the sophisticated campsite restaurant instead of Indian delights, so having made a 450km round trip it needed eaten or chucked.

Shockingly I didn’t look up her chapati recipe, but followed ‘Jimmy’ on the packet of the Atta flour.

  • 1 cup of Atta flour, and
  • water to make into a dough.

OK, this isn’t exactly it, but it’ll do, and I’m tired.

Mix until it comes together in loose bundles. Leave to rest 10 mins. Knead for a minute or so, and leave again. When it is smooth and becoming elastic, chop into six small balls. Roll these out into flat circles. This is easier said than done.

I’ve seen my pal Jules’ Pakistani mum-in-law do this with the flick of a wrist. Easy.

I squashed a lightly floured ball down with the base of my hand, then used my lovely Huon pine rolling pin to roll out from the centre to the edge in quick strokes, moving the dough around a few of hours (on a clock) each time until 6-7″ across.

I have a cast iron griddle which I heated until the bread pretty much instantly cooked on one side. I found if you turned it as soon as you had a couple of charred craters or starts bubbling, that the thing would puff up wonderfully when you do the 2nd side. Magic.

I imagine you could deep fry these*……

Anyway, the ‘break away’ was cooking eggs on top of the keema, so the meat stuck to the base of the half fried/ poached eggs. This went down rather well with the beasts who devoured an almighty helping. The chapati made very fine vessels for the chick peas (Maseladar- heavy on the garam masala, yum).

Washed down with an incongruous Timothy Taylors, this was the end of a rather fine day.

*of course, having looked in the ‘Invitation’ this is of course a ‘poori’.

And the chapati method she describes is pleasingly close to what I ended up doing. High five to me.

Chuck over the grass

It’s odd that beef here is often sold with the declaration of ‘grain-fed’. I’m not sure this is something I would go shouting about. So, it was great that Shona found some grass fed organic beef at the rather good Meat Direct in Rapid Creek. They specialise in large lumps of quality  meat, which is clearly, is a fine thing. We had a 2.7kg slab of chuck steak, which is from the shoulder. Mum made a very good red pepper stew when she was here and then I minced some. Hugh Fearnley is correct in his ‘River Cottage Meat’ book,  they were average burgers. However, it really shined in tonight’s slow cooking feast. I picked up some lovely looking local tomatoes from the market. In fact, I bought three types as the season has really taken off here, which is a bit weird, as it parallels the season back home in Blighty. That’s the wet season for you, tomatoes just rot.

So, a kilo or so of cubed chuck steak, browned in olive oil, and then deglazed the pan with cheapo balsamic vinegar, and into the slow cooker. Tomatoes halved, in ,and then five deseeded and chopped narrow curly green capsicums, with just a hint of heat. In the slow cooker for about 8 hours until the tendinous parts were soft. Actually, that was yesterday, so by  tonight the flavours had married. I made some mash with desiree potatoes, putting an elephant garlic clove in to boil too, though three might have been a bit more gutsy. Olive oil and butter, and the choppped shoots from the Asian shallots, which interestingly, seem to also be in season now too- I will have to stock up.

Now to salt some lemons.