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In My Kitchen… August 2014

Last month I said it wasn’t too cold in Brisbane then the moment I pressed the publish button, the icy blasts from the Antarctic arrived. For Brisbane, it was very cold. This, from a seasoned traveller to Canberra. A month on, we have had our cold spell and temperatures are starting to climb. Yesterday a ridiculous 28c – welcome to the last month of Winter in Queensland. A more respectable 21c today but there is very little chill lingering.

In my kitchen…

Beef Cheek Ragu

…is a beef cheek ragu. I had one pair of beef cheeks in the freezer and decided a slow cooked ragu would be perfect with some pumpkin gnocchi I was making. I chopped the cheeks into chunks, browned them and tossed them in the casserole dish. The tomato sauce was a basic mix of onion, tinned tomatoes, tomato paste and some red wine along with seasoning. A quick cook in the pan the cheeks were browned in and then into the casserole. I slow cooked the cheeks for a few hours in a low oven and then shredded the chunks with a fork to make a rich and hearty ragu sauce. If you haven’t used beef cheeks, you’re missing out. The sinew and connective tissue simply melts with slow cooking, producing a positively lip smacking and unctuous sauce.

In my kitchen…

Carnival of Flowers Goodies

…is a small selection from an enormous goodie box I received when I visited Toowoomba for the Carnival of Flowers Launch. I will be writing more about the Carnival of Flowers over the coming month but for those of you who don’t know about Toowoomba, it is known as ‘The Garden City’ and the Carnival is a celebration of the start of Spring as it shrugs off it’s Wintry coat. The gift box was enormous, including a hand-made apple crate. It is sitting on Anthony’s desk at work as he collected it for me when I returned to Brisbane. He’s bringing home a few things each day on the bus and these are the first. The hamper showcases Toowoomba and the wider tourism regions of South Burnett and the Granite Belt. In this photo you can see some Preston Peak wine, fresh fudge from Kingaroy including a unique Lavender & Carmel flavour, Mother Meg’s biscuits, Kingaroy peanuts (the thing Kingaroy is most famous for) and, coffee beans. Not a Toowoomba product as such but roasted locally at The Angel Cafe which has its own roaster. Can you believe someone didn’t want their bag of coffee? I said I’d make the sacrifice and take two bags home!

In my kitchen…

Beancurd pair

…are these bean curd knots. Whenever I go to the Asian supermarket to top up my pantry staples, I like to try a few new things. I really like tofu but it has a short fridge life so these bean curd knots are a good standby to add some interest. They are essentially sheets of tofu that have been sliced into ribbons, twisted into a knot and then dried. If you are using them in a stir fry, you need to add some boiling water to a bowl for a few minutes, to soften them before you add them to the stir fry. If you’re using them in a hot-pot or soup, simply add them mid way through cooking (so they don’t disintegrate).  Something a bit different and fun for the kids.

Not in my kitchen…

Ben Devlin's Tartar

…but in someone else’s is the new Qld Young Chef of the Year. Last month I told you I was going to the inaugural Young Chef of the Year Dinner as E’cco Bistro. The winner was Ben Devlin of Esquire who went through a series of cooking sessions to demonstrate his abilities. On the night, Ben created  Smoked Beef Tartar w Steamed Cod Brioche & Salted Egg Yolk. Of course, it looked nothing like it sounded and was an absolute delight to eat. Esquire was the only restaurant in Qld that won three hats so it’s easy to see that they invest in cultivating their young talent.

Finally, in my kitchen…


… is a writing award. I recently entered the SA Writer’s Centre & Food Blogger’s Australia 2014 Writing Competition and won the ‘Food/Travel Narrative’ category. To say that I’m thrilled is an understatement. I won for my short piece about Foraging on Norfolk Island. Along with the award came a prize. A new KitchenAid hand mixer. It’s winging its way to me now. Whilst it will be great to have a new mixer, the award is the real prize. To be recognised by my peers for my written skills is high praise indeed. As I have told a few of you, ‘This one’s going straight to the pool room.’ (For those who don’t know what that means… click here: Pool Room)

In My Kitchen is a monthly blog link up hosted by Celia from Fig Jam & Lime Cordial, one of Australia’s most popular food bloggers. Kitchens are like fingerprints. No two are alike. If you found my kitchen interesting, you’ll find more kitchens that are very different to mine on Celia’s blog.  I went to Sydney last month and just before I arrived, Celia broke the news that the Portuguese butcher at Petersham was not only out of the lard she had been talking about but, it was also closing! So there was no opportunity to transport anything back across state lines. Celia and I hoped to catch up but we were like ships in the night. She had her sister visiting and I was celebrating my Mum’s birthday. There will be other trips and I’m sure we’ll connect one day.

48 comments… add one
  • Shannan August 3, 2014, 1:14 pm

    Congratulations on your award! Fantastic news!!

    • Fiona Ryan August 3, 2014, 5:50 pm

      Thanks Shannan. And thanks to you for being a regular reader. I very much appreciate having an audience (beacuse you know how I love an audience!)

  • Lizzy (Good Things) August 3, 2014, 4:46 pm

    Congrats again on the award…. it is indeed an honour, as I know from last year’s win. Love the sound of your dried tofu… is it tasty? We happen to be in Qld right now, so please turn the control knob back to 28 degrees C asap. Thank you ma’am.

    • Fiona Ryan August 3, 2014, 9:47 pm

      Hi Liz – the dried bean curd doesn’t really taste of anything (just like tofu) but of course will pick up flavours in the pot. Oh, you’re in Qld. Friday was a cracker but it’s a more modest 21c. Still, warmer than the ACT!

  • Tony O. August 3, 2014, 7:52 pm

    Congratulations. You may have to do extensions to the pool room if this keeps up.

    • Fiona Ryan August 3, 2014, 9:48 pm

      Well an extension to the dining room at least…

  • Jan Rhoades August 3, 2014, 8:13 pm

    Again, well done with the award Fiona. Very proud of you. The ragu looks and sounds delicious. I hope it was appreciated. Have you tried the wine yet? We have been to Preston Peak and it is a very picturesque winery indeed.

    • Fiona Ryan August 3, 2014, 9:49 pm

      I tried that particular wine last week and was very impressed. Not in love with their whites but that Cab Sauv really held its own. Haven’t been to the winery itself. Perhaps on another trip.

  • Mandy - The Complete Book August 3, 2014, 10:00 pm

    Your beef cheek ragu sounds fabulous and congratulations on your award. How wonderful to be receiving a prize too!
    Have a wonderful week ahead.
    🙂 Mandy xo

    • Fiona Ryan August 5, 2014, 1:35 pm

      Hi Mandy – yes the prize is an extra bonus. The ragu was indeed delicious with the pumpkin gnocchi. Thanks for stopping by.

  • Glenda August 3, 2014, 11:00 pm

    Congratulations Fiona!!

  • Mel @ The cook's notebook August 4, 2014, 10:25 am

    Am now going to have to make beef cheek something tonight for dinner – looks amazing! Congrats again on your award.

    • Fiona Ryan August 5, 2014, 1:36 pm

      Thanks Mel. It’s hardly the weather though is it? I’m running down the freezer before we head OS and trying to be very good about not stocking up!

  • sherry from sherryspickings August 4, 2014, 8:47 pm

    congrats fiona on your writing award. that must be such a thrill. and love the look of the beef cheeks:)

    • Fiona Ryan August 5, 2014, 1:37 pm

      Hi Sherry – the beef cheeks are so easy. I just stick them in the oven and let them cook. I do have a slow cooker but find beef cheeks respond better to oven cooking.

  • InTolerant Chef August 4, 2014, 9:06 pm

    Congratulations on your win! You certainly have some goodies here for sure 🙂

  • tania@ My Kitchen Stories August 4, 2014, 9:22 pm

    Now theres something I havent seen before beancurd knots. I love beef cheeks. once again congratulations on the award very thrilling!

    • Fiona Ryan August 5, 2014, 1:40 pm

      We enjoyed a hotpot last night with some bean curd knots. Anthony said ‘I love these – so chewy’. Not sure if that was a compliment but I’ll take it! Thanks for your congratulations.

  • ardysez.com August 5, 2014, 7:30 am

    Congratulations on the award! The only two times I’ve tasted beef cheeks I found the meat strong tasting. Our butcher tried to get me to try some this winter but I’ve resisted until now. Seeing your lovely results may have inspired me!

    • Fiona Ryan August 5, 2014, 1:42 pm

      Hi Ardys – I don’t find them strong flavoured at all. I actually don’t enjoy lamd as I often find it too strong. Perhaps the beef in central Aus is stronger as the cattle has to be hardier!

  • Anne August 5, 2014, 4:30 pm

    Beef cheeks seem to be the thing that everyone’s cooking at the moment – your certainly look good so I shall just have to get along to the butcher to buy some. Your winter sounds hotter than our summer.

    • Fiona Ryan August 6, 2014, 10:31 am

      Ha! 28c was a very unusual day but yes, 21c is a typical Brisbane Winter day. I laughed when I watched the Glasgow Commonwealth Games – some days the commentators had coats and hoods. In 2 years it will be on the Gold Coast, just an hour from Brisbane. Overseas guest will melt!

  • Joanne T Ferguson August 5, 2014, 6:21 pm

    G’day and BIG congrats on your award and LOVE using bean curd knots!
    Thanks for this month’s kitchen view!
    Cheers! Joanne

    • Fiona Ryan August 6, 2014, 10:32 am

      Hi Joanne – thanks for your kind words. The bean curd knots have been very popular in the comments. The manufacturers may have a rush on them!

  • Maree August 5, 2014, 7:22 pm

    Beef cheeks, been trying to get some for ages but no joy. Will have to do a special order I think. Will definitely have to check out those knots when I do my asian pantry stock up next time I go to Melbourne. No local asian grocer, so I get all sorts of goodies at the very authentic markets in Springvale, Footscray or Dandenong. Congratulations on the award!

    • Fiona Ryan August 6, 2014, 10:29 am

      Hi Maree – to be honest, I get the beef cheeks at Woolies so if they deliver to you, perhaps you can get them online.

  • Emma August 5, 2014, 10:10 pm

    That beef ragu looks incredible and that goodie box looks amazing. Enjoy. Hope you like my IMK post too. Emma.

    • Fiona Ryan August 8, 2014, 12:11 pm

      Hi Emma – I did indeed enjoy your IMK. I am always so envious of people in the Uk being able to go out and pick wild blackberries, sloes and the like. It’s something we don’t do in Australia as they aren’t native to the country. Cheers!

  • Francine Spiering August 5, 2014, 10:13 pm

    Tofu knots! Had the sheets, but never the knots. Know I know what to look for next time I’m in the Chinese supermarket. Or not. The beef cheek stew, oh feed me some! And lest best: congratulations on the blogger award!

    • Fiona Ryan August 6, 2014, 10:34 am

      Hi Francine – wow! Who’d have thought those cheap little tofu knots would be such a hit on the blog. Thanks for visiting, reading and commenting.

  • Milk and Honey August 5, 2014, 10:19 pm

    Congratulations on your award! How wonderful.

    I love bean curd skin. They add a “meatiness” to veggie dishes and are so yum.

    • Fiona Ryan August 8, 2014, 12:13 pm

      Thanks very much. I didn’t realise the bean curd knots would be so popular. I’m going to have to hunt out other intriguing items for my next post!

  • Johanna @ Green Gourmet Giraffe August 5, 2014, 10:50 pm

    Congratulations on the award – I am sure using the stand mixer will fill you with warm and fuzzy feelings. Love those tofu knots – never seen them before – and I regret to say I am the person who would happily give you my bag of coffee beans – love the smell of fresh coffee but have never been able to drink it without it making me feel ill.

    • Fiona Ryan August 6, 2014, 12:02 pm

      Well I’d take that coffee Johanna. You always have lots on interesting things in your kitchen so I’m happy to show you something different.

  • celia August 6, 2014, 6:52 am

    Hey, congratulations!! That’s wonderful news, and a well-deserved win, I’m sure! I wish I could sell Pete on beef cheeks – he won’t go within a bull’s roar of them – he says they’re too “gamey”. I love them, especially in curries! And those bean curd knots – I think my mother traditionally uses them in her Chinese New Year soup – I believe they’re supposed to be good luck (but I can’t remember why). Let’s make a point of meeting up one day, I reckon we’d have a blast! 🙂

    • Fiona Ryan August 6, 2014, 12:03 pm

      You’re the 2nd person to mention beef cheeks being gamey. I don’t find that at all. I find them very mild. Milder than lamb shanks and lamb in general. Those men – so pedantic! Thanks for the congrats and thanks for being a great host!

  • Tandy | Lavender and Lime August 6, 2014, 4:43 pm

    Congratulations on your award! Well done and enjoy your hand mixer. I need to find some beef cheeks here 🙂

    • Fiona Ryan August 7, 2014, 10:48 am

      Thanks Tandy. Perhaps buffalo cheeks will be easier to source ; )

  • Gustoso August 11, 2014, 9:36 am

    Congratulations on the award.

  • Elizabeth August 12, 2014, 7:34 pm

    What fantastic news… Congratulations! I love the idea of those tofu knots… I can’t wait to see if my local asian food store has them, they would come in handy on occasion! Liz x

    • Fiona Ryan August 13, 2014, 6:06 pm

      Goodness, the tofu knots have been a hit. I’m laughing that I wrote a review of a cafe and mentioned jelly slices and many people have been saying they have never heard of jelly slice. I have been referring them to your post on slices!

  • Emily (Cooking for Kishore) August 12, 2014, 11:53 pm

    Hi Fiona, Congratulations on your award! Now after reading your post I’m craving hotpot! Thanks for sharing. 🙂

    • Fiona Ryan August 13, 2014, 6:03 pm

      Hi Emily – thanks for your comments. If you’re craving hotpot, get on in to that kitchen and cook! Cheers xx

  • Kim | a little lunch August 13, 2014, 1:56 am

    Fiona, congratulations on your well-deserved award & recognition! (I watched the video link… yup, straight to the pool room… that was marvelous.) Your ragu looks delicious and I was thinking a piece of that lavender carmel fudge would make the perfect dessert. Pity you had to tote home two bags of coffee beans… yes, such sacrifices. 🙂 Congrats again!

    • Fiona Ryan August 13, 2014, 6:02 pm

      Hi Kim – I watched the video a couple of times myself and had a giggle after all of these years. The fudge has been a stayer. I shave off a small slice of each every night and that’s enough for us to enjoy.

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