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!

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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!

January 2017: Polaroids, Cirque du Soleil & Crying My Way Through A Concert

So, uh, hey. Me again. Remember when I thought I was going to actually update this regularly? Ha ha ha.

But hey, new year… new me, right? So here I am! I have a goal this year to actually keep up with this blog, probably in the format of monthly recaps to keep myself from being too ambitious. I’d like to talk about what books I read, what recipes I’ve tried, and what adventures I’ve gone on. So here we go!

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  • I can’t talk about January without mentioning about how grateful I am to have been in America over the holidays and into the new year (maybe I’ll make another separate post about that trip sometime). Even though the last week of the trip left me feeling weird and down (my childhood cat passed away as Brent and I were flying back to Australia), I’m so thankful that I got to spend so much time with my favorite pooch and kit-cat, my family, and my friends from home.

 

  • If you follow me on Instagram (here’s a link if you don’t), you’ll have already seen my post about this squirrel print that I got Brent for Christmas. Brent loves squirrels (and loves this print) so I’m glad we found a frame for this print and it is now happily hanging in our home.

 

  • The start of the new year rekindled my dream of cooking/baking through every single recipe in my Smitten Kitchen cookbook. This month I made 3 new recipes: Ratatouille Sub, Rosemary Gouda [supposed to be gruyere but I couldn’t find any at our local supermarket] & Sea Salt Crisps, and Peach & Sour Cream Pancakes. All three of these were delicious but if I had to pick a winner… it would be the Ratatouille Sub! I seriously cannot wait until we make that again.
  • Books! I read four books this month. I have a ~Dream Goal~ of reading 52 books this year. I say ‘dream’ because I don’t want to stress myself out too much if I don’t read that many. My realistic goal is to read 30! I read the first two books in the Mistborn trilogy. I really liked both of these but I’ve taken a bit of a break before reading the third by reading a self-help book and a psychological thriller for the virtual book club I’m a part of.
  • This month, Brent and I were lucky enough to see two shows in the city! And they happened to be two nights in a row! Back in October, I bought us tickets to see Yann Tiersen and oh my gosh, he was spectacular. I don’t know what it is about me seeing musicians-that-I-have-been-obsessed-with-since-high-school live… but, like when we saw Sufjan Stevens last year, I cried throughout the night. Such a sap. Before the performance, we ate dinner at an Italian restaurant in the south wharf promenade where the wine was much better than the food [which was a bummer]. The following night, we saw Cirque du Soleil Kooza! Brent got me tickets for Christmas (that boy knows me so well) and the show was incredible. Forever inspired and in awe of the performers in Cirque!
  • Last weekend, Brent and I dusted off our bicycles and went for a ride along the waterfront. It. Was. Incredible. We lucked out with gorgeous views and weather. The riding path was flat (praise hands) and I had such a great time. I’m super excited to go for another ride sometime this week!
  • For Christmas, I got a Polaroid camera. What decade are we in again?? So I’m still obsessed with it and I’m trying to take as many photos with it as possible. It’s super cool because it came with a micro-SD slot so I’ve been able to save all of the photos digitally as well! We took this photo during the afternoon of the Serena vs Venus match, after we had been boozing and BBQing outside in the sunshine for hours on end. Very quality photo, am I right? .

So that was my January, in a nutshell! Maybe sometime I will talk on this blog about my weight loss efforts and future travel plans… but I feel like I have already wrote out an entire novel in this post alone.

I hope you all had a fantastic January. Looking forward to seeing what February (my birthday month) brings for us!

Flat-Roasted Chicken With Potatoes

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Otherwise known as my first attempt at ~food blogging~.

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen’s Flat Roasted Chicken with Tiny Potatoes recipe

Ingredients:

  • One 1⅓-to-1½ kg (3-to-3½ pound) chicken
  • Table salt
  • Ground black pepper
  • 680 grams (1½ pounds) yellow potatoes, peeled
  • 2 tablespoons (30ml) olive oil (or butter), for potatoes
  • 1 lemon, to finish
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme leaves, to finish

Method:

Preheat oven to 230C (450F) – or if you’re like me, as hot as your oven can go (which was a whopping 200C). Using a pair of kitchen scissors, remove the backbone of the chicken and discard it (SK says that you can freeze and save it to make stock but it is SO bloody and terrifying, I just wanted it out of my face – I know, I KNOW, I shouldn’t be a meat eater if I can’t deal with handling raw meat).

Season the cavity generously with salt and ground black pepper. Lay the chicken, breast up, in a roasting pan (I lined mine with aluminum foil to make clean up a bit easier). Gently pat the breast skin dry with a paper town. Generously season the top of the bird with more salt and freshly ground black pepper. Nestle the potatoes around the chicken, and drizzle them lightly with olive oil. Season potatoes with salt and pepper.

Roast the chicken for 30 to 45 minutes. Toss the potatoes after about 20 minutes to ensure that they cook evenly. When the chicken has finished cooking, transfer the potatoes to a clean plate. Remove the legs, thighs, wings, and breasts from the spatchcooked chicken (or if you’re me, get your boyfriend to do it because that bird is HOT), and arrange them with potatoes. Squeeze juice of an entire lemon over the dish (we have a lemon tree in our backyard so we used a bit more), then sprinkle with thyme. Eat at once.

Notes:

  • The only thing I really changed from the original recipe were the potatoes. I couldn’t really find ‘tiny potatoes’ at our grocery store so I just cut up some normal potatoes.
  • Never will I ever remove a raw chicken’s backbone again. If I ever recreate this recipe, that job will have to go to Brent. I didn’t take any photos of the hacked up carcass (you can thank me later) – just know that it was both extremely difficult and very gross.
  • The dish turned out quite nice though and it gave me an excuse to use my new thyme plant. I think next time I would stuff the chicken with stuffing because I’m a glutton like that.
  • I’ve included a collage of my beautiful food photos . You don’t have to tell me how talented I am at food photography, I already know. (Heavy, HEAVY sarcasm here)

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