Sweet & Sour Brisket (SK#27) // My Sister Visits Australia

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In April, my sister flew all the way to Australia for the first time.  Fun fact: Kyra is the first person to visit me in Melbourne since I moved here almost four years ago. Her trip down under was less than two weeks. There was so much that I wanted to show her!

On her first morning, after a big night’s rest, Brent and I took Kyra to one of our favourite breakfast spots in our neighbourhood – The Birdcage. There, Kyra got to experience her first taste of Melbourne coffee! She ordered a flat white (how Australian) whereas I ordered my standard cappuccino. My sister and I ordered the same breakfast (much to her dismay): apple crumble pancakes!

We took Kyra to our old neck of the woods (where Brent’s parents live) and she got to meet his family. It’s pretty crazy to think that in the almost-ten years that Brent and I have been dating, our families haven’t really met! On our way up, we stopped at Woodlands Historic Park where we saw some wallabies and kangaroo!

One of the highlights in Kyra’s trip here (for her and for us) was getting to spend a couple of days on the Great Ocean Road. Even though I have gotten to drive alone the coastal highway a handful of times, I always love getting to go back. We stopped at almost every view point on the way to Apollo Bay (where we stayed the night). We took Kyra to the ever-lovely Twelve Apostles. We got very lucky with weather during this trip – the sun was shining almost the entire time.

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Before we drove back home, we stopped for fish and chips in Port Campbell, where Kyra got to experience this very Aussie tradition!

The very next day, Brent had to go in to work while Kyra and I took another drive over to Phillip Island. We stopped and spent a few hours at the Phillip Island Wildlife Park where you get to feed kangaroo, wallabies, wombats, and emu. Kyra loved the massive kangaroo (who were a bit too big and aggressive for food for my liking). We drove into town for lunch and ate at one of the two restaurants that were still serving food at 4pm. Then we saw Phillip Island’s famous penguin parade! I’ve only ever been to see the penguins one other time. I have to admit – this time around was a bit disappointing. The penguins were especially shy and we waited for about 45 minutes until a few small groups popped up and out of the water. Still, of course, worth it.

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Toward the end of Kyra’s trip was our three day trip to New Zealand (which I will save for another post). We got back to Australia two nights before she had to fly back home. On Kyra’s final day in Melbourne, we all decided to get tattoos. Kyra and I got matching ankle tattoos of the Tree of Gondor (since our family has a tradition of watching all three extended LOTR movies on Christmas Eve in a row – nerds!). We went to a local tattoo parlour and they were fantastic (shout out to Westona Tattoo)!

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Saying goodbye to my little sister was as hard as ever but I’m so glad that she got to visit us! I can’t wait for her next trip down under (when she can meet her doggy niece)!


 

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Maya’s Sweet and Sour Holiday Brisket and Roasted Potatoes and Carrot Coins (and Brussels Sprout!)
Serves 10 to 12 (so.much.leftovers)

Ingredients:

  • 4 to 5 pound piece beef brisket (I used two pieces of brisket from our local supermarket which totaled in about 2 kilograms)
  • 1.5 tsp table salt, plus more for seasoning meat
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup (235 ml) beef stock
  • 3 tbsp (50 grams) tomato paste
  • 1/4 cup (50 grams) brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup (120 ml) red wine vinegar
  • 4 tsp paprika
  • 2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/8 tsp red chili flakes
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 tbsp (15 grams) onion powder

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Method:

  1. Season the meat generously on both sides with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper.
  2. Whisk all of the remaining ingredients together in a medium bowl.
  3. Place meat in slow-cooker, pour sauce over it, and set it to cook at low setting for 10 hours.
  4. After the 10 hours, transfer the brisket and all of its sauce to a baking dish.
  5. Rest brisket! Chill the entire dish in the fridge. SK says that you can chill for a few hours and up to one day and that the longer you rest, the more it’ll enhance the flavour and texture of the meat. We ended up resting ours overnight.
  6. An hour before you are ready to serve, preheat your oven to 150C/300F and then remove dish from the fridge. For a less oily final dish, we removed all of the solidified fat with a spoon.
  7. Carefully remove meat from sauce and place on a large cutting board. Cut the brisket into thin (1/4 to 1/2 inch) slices and carefully place sliced meat back into the sauce. Spoon the sauce over the meat.
  8. You’re supposed to replace lid and reheat in the oven until bubbling at the edge… but we misread this. We heated the dish before cutting it… and then ended up spooning the sauce over our plated meat and eating. Still delish!

For the potatoes and carrots:

  • 900g potatoes, sliced thin (recipe calls for fingerling potatoes but they don’t sell those at our local supermarket – normal potatoes seemed to do)
  • 900g large carrots (about 4 to 5), sliced thin into coins
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1.5 tsp salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 200C/400F.
  2. Generously coat two baking sheets with olive oil. Spread veggies out on prepared sheets and drizzle with any remaining olive oil before seasoning them with sal and freshly ground black pepper. Roast for 20 minutes before using a large spatula to flip the vegetables.
  3. Resume roasting for another 10 to 15 minutes, until they are brown and crisp at edges. The potatoes should be soft and tender inside, the carrots soft but not mushy.
  4. Remove from the oven. Season with additional salt and pepper. SK recommends sprinkling them with fresh dill or any other herb of your choice but we didn’t have anything!

Darcy’s notes:

I would like to try this recipe again, this time actually following the instructions at the end! Regardless, the meat and the veggies turned out lovely. I love eating roast vegetables cooked in this method. I also made brussels sprout by following this Smitten Kitchen recipe which I would definitely recommend if you like dijon mustard!

Harvest Roast Chicken with Blueberries, Olives, and Rosemary (SK#26) & We Got A Dog!

I’m crawling out of the woodwork again and this time I’m just going to pretend like I never left… not like starting this blog post like such will draw attention to that or anything – d’oh!

So, uh, hey again! We are already over halfway through 2017… and over halfway through July. I’m starting to believe what they say about time moving quicker as you get older is totally true. Because, gosh darn it, where has the time gone?!

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An entire six months has passed since my last blog post. In those six months, my sister visited me in Australia for the first time, we traveled to New Zealand (first new country since visiting Oz in 2010 for the first time), and we adopted a dog! I hope to spend some quality time in the upcoming weeks putting together a post about Kyra’s visit and NZ (definitely going to have to wrack the brain for details… both of these events already feel like a lifetime ago).

But uh, did you catch that?

We adopted a dog!

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This gorgeous girl is a three year old Rottweiler. Her name is Kona (shoutout to Hawaii). We adopted her on May 10th, which will also serve as her birthday! We have no information about Kona’s history. She was picked up from the Lost Dog’s Home in Melbourne by Starting Over Dog Rescue. She was severely underweight and has had at least a litter of pups. Kona lived with her foster family (where they called her Tilly) for a little over a month before we adopted her. Our friend Amy set up everything for us (thanks Amy!!) and we managed to meet Kona before she was advertised online (she would’ve gone quick, too, because of her breed and gentle demeanour).

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Kona and her doggy uncle Jordy have been slowly getting used to one another (Kona learning to be calm with Jordy and accepting that he doesn’t want to play with her and Jordy learning to be tolerant and less afraid of Kona). We have been keeping them both on leads around each other for now but they have gotten so much better around each other.

It’s been over two months since we adopted Kona and we already cannot imagine a life without her. She loves to go on walks or runs with us. Tennis balls are her favourite toy. She is the cuddliest dog and absolutely loves every person she meets. We feel so incredibly lucky to have won the rescue dog adoption lottery with this one!

In the last few months, I’ve also been cooking and baking quite a lot. I’m still trying to cook through the entirety of The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook.

Last night, I cooked my twenty-sixth Smitten Kitchen recipe. And I thought I’d share the recipe with you all! Who knows, maybe one day I will actually get better at ~food photography~!

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Harvest Roast Chicken with Grapes Blueberries, Olives, and Rosemary
Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 1ish kg of chicken drumsticks (SK calls for chicken parts – thighs, drumsticks, breasts, etc but I couldn’t be bothered)
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 cup (90g) blueberries (okay – SK asked for red seedless grapes which I would have used but I couldn’t find a single grape at our supermarket – I took a chance on the blueberries and it actually came out really nice still!)
  • 1 cup (130g) pitted kalamata olives
  • 2 shallots, thinly sliced
  • 0.5 cup dry white wine (we used a cheap sauv blanc)
  • 0.5 cup chicken broth
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped fresh rosemary

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Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 230C (450F) with a rack in the middle.
  2. Pat chicken dry and season generously.
  3. Heat oil in oven proof 12-inch pan (I seriously dream of the day that I own a cast-iron skillet) over medium-high heat until oil is hot.
  4. Brown the chicken, skin side down and then turning over, for about 5 minutes. We did this in two batches like SK recommends.
  5. Return pieces to the pan, skin side up, and surround the pieces with blueberries, olives, and shallots. Roast the chicken in the oven until it has cooked through and the juices run clear, about 20 minutes.
  6. Transfer chicken, blueberries, and olives to a plat and cover with foil (to keep warm) while adding wine and chicken broth to the pan juices in skillet. Bring liquid to a boil, scraping up any brown bits, until it has reduced by half. We were expecting ours to thicken but it did not (and that’s okay). SK says to strain sauce if you’d like (but we’re lazy so we didn’t) and then pour over chicken.
  7. Add rosemary. And eat up!

Darcy’s notes:

I would love to be able to make this dish with grapes to see how it differs. I took a chance (I was very panicky in the grocery store) buying blueberries and I’m happy that the dish was edible, nay, delicious!