This meal plan has a lot of meat based dishes, which is the polar opposite of last week. I have also included some of my “back to basics” recipes to help you on your way to learn the basics of classic dishes. From learning the basics, you can you can further grow with your cooking experiences and start to really tailor your meals to your needs.
Even though we had a lot of meat this week, I made sure that we were having an extra serving of vegetables. For me, if I eat a lot of meat, I feel heavy and a bit sluggish so if I have lots of vegetables, it counteracts the effects. I have often thought about becoming a vegetarian because of this, but the reason that I don’t is because I grew up on a sheep and cattle station and I feel it’s my birthright to support the meat industry, even if it is in a small way. I also want to add that the sheep and cattle on our farm are free range and completely grass fed! My Dad is one of the biggest animal lovers that I know, to the point where it is sometimes ridiculous (He won’t sell a cow because it’s one of his favourites) so I guess I have this niaveity that all meat is raised like that. I know it’s not the case and it makes me sad that it isn’t but I do try and be conscious of this when I buy meat.
The science of a good burger has been written about A LOT! (Over 9 million results, according to Google) but after I clicked on a couple of articles, I still wasn’t finding what I wanted so here is my two cents on the topic…
Firstly, the story of why I decided to write this post. I cook all the time, I should be able to make a good burger. Well my friends, unfortunately not. Infact, after the last batch that I made, Alex told me that we should just start buying the pre-made patties as they taste better. Needless to say, I am not impressed (with him) and myself so I have gone into research mode for the quest of a good burger recipe. Keep in mind, I don’t like fancy ingredients, I have a small budget and any recipe that takes me over 20 minutes in preparation time has lost my attention, so I am going to keep this simple for all of us.
A little history… where did the burger come from?
According to the Burger Doctor, the Hamburger came from Hamburg, Germany in the 1880’s after the locals ground the tough meat to make it more tender. There is controversy about this as the hamburger is an American staple so with further research, this tasty sandwich could have been made in Ohio by the Menches brothers. Their first burgers were beef sausage meat, seasoned with brown sugar, coffee and spices. There are many other theories, but honestly, I am just glad that someone came up with this tasty invention.
The hamburger wasn’t as widely known or accepted from that start, mainly due to poor hygiene surrounding the production and sales. Towards the end of the great depression, their popularity grew, mainly because they were cheap but it wasn’t until the beginning of Macdonald’s, that burgers really took off and became an integral part of the American culture (1). Love them or hate them, much of our commercial food processing is thanks to the ingenuity of the Macdonald’s restaurants as they strived to have their burgers taste the same, in any place in America and later the world. Nowadays, it is estimated that 50 million burgers are eaten in America alone! (2)
There is an overwhelming amount of ways that you can make a good burger pattie! In the end, I ended up playing with the recipe a bit more and made a much nicer pattie, mainly because of this video, because it showed me that the best burgers are simple. It was Alex approved and I am sure that you will like it too!
MAKING THE BURGER PATTIES
500g of ground beef
1/4 cup of breadcrumbs
3 tbs of cornstarch
Salt and Pepper
Any other seasonings that you may want
Take all the ingredients and mix them in a large bowl.
Once the “dough” is formed, split it into 4 large patties or 6 smaller ones.
Heat a fry pan on a medium heat, add a splash of olive oil and add your patties.
I liked my pattie to be flat, so I squished mine so that it was easier to eat but it is all personal preference.
Fry the patty on one side for about 5 minutes and then flip.
Cook for another 5 minutes and you are ready to build your burger.
Tomato, Lettuce and Pickles
Mushrooms, Caramelised Onion and Cheese
Bacon, Eggs, Cheese and BBQ Sauce
Tomato, Lettuce, Pickled Beets, Grilled Pineapple and Onion (Aussie Style)
This pesto and feta baked eggs is a take on the original and also a great way to use up the ingredients from the meal plan this week.
My first time having baked eggs wasn’t until I was 22! I was in this cool little cafe in Perth, Australia and it was all that they served on the menu. After asking the server how they were made and finding out how easy they were, baked eggs have become a common meal in my life. I eat eggs a lot anyway, for breakfast, for dinner and sometimes, even lunch! (Not all on the same day, I promise!).
If you are looking for a quick and light meal, this is perfect for you as the prep time is minimal and once the eggs are in the oven, there is not much left to do but make some toast and relax.
Spaghetti and meatballs makes me think of cobbled roads and Italian people zipping around on scooters. I have never been to Italy but one day, I shall get there just to see if my vision is true.
SPAGHETTI AND MEATBALLS
500 grams/1 pound of ground beef
1/4 cup of breadcrumbs
3 tbs of cornstarch
1/2 tsp of oregano (dried)
1/2 tsp of basil (dried)
salt and pepper to taste
thick spaghetti pasta
one jar of pasta sauce
cheese for serving (I like parmesan)
Place ground beef, bread crumbs, corn starch, egg, herbs and spices in a bowl and mix until you have formed a sticky dough.
Take about a tablespoon of mixture and roll it into a ball. Place on a separate plate. Keep doing this until you have used up all the mixture.
Turn on the element to medium and heat a large frying pan. Add a dash of olive oil and then gently place all of the meatballs in. Cover with a lid and let them cook for about 5 minutes.
In the meantime, put a large pot of water on to boil and add your desired amount of pasta.
Once the meatballs are cooked on one side, turn them all over and cover them again for another 5 minutes, or until they are brown on each side.
Add your jar of pasta sauce, stirring gently so that you don’t break the meatballs, until the sauce is hot.
Drain the pasta that was cooking and after rinsing, add a swirl of olive oil.
Combine the pasta and the meatball sauce in a bowl, add some cheese of choice and enjoy.
This is honestly, the best best risotto recipe! Why? Because I have made it so often and have never screwed it up! Also, because I have made it so often, I know all the little tricks and can also go into autopilot with this meal now.
I learnt to make risotto while I was the front desk manager of a hotel. Our chef, Maija Maltais, is a master with flavours and makes the best lemon and saffron risotto that you have ever tasted. As well as a brilliant chef, she also takes the most breathtaking landscape pictures, which you can view on her website.
This dish was always coupled with fresh Dungeness Crab and a leafy salad and needless to say, it was a well received. Sometimes, we would be a little short staffed so I would help out in the kitchen. I loved doing this and after a while, risotto became the meal that I would look after, just because the stirring was so labour intensive. I can still feel the ache in my arms as I mixed two giant pots on our gas stove, while making sure that I didn’t burn the mix and adding stock when it was needed. We needed to make enough for fifty people and if we were lucky, there would be some left over for the staff.
Risotto is a dish that is well worth the effort. Creamy rice with rich flavours of parmesan cheese and white wine, it is the savoury version of rice pudding. The science behind the dish is ultimately because of the constant stirring and the slow addition of the stock to the rice. These two actions stimulate the starch from the rice to thicken, thus creating a creamy mouth feel.
If this is your first time making risotto, don’t be intimidated. It is really easy! And with the steps that I give you, you will be a master in no time.
Serves 6 – Cooking Time: 20 minutes
2 cups of arborio rice
2 cups of dry white wine
6 cups of stock
1/2 cup of parmesan cheese
Vegetable of choice (we like using mushrooms, but asparagus is really good too)
Get all your ingredients together, this is crucial.
Chop your onions finely, and your vegetable of choice into large chunks.
Make your stock in a saucepan and have it on a low heat.
Note – Taste your stock. Does it taste very salty or like a soup broth? If it is super salty, dilute it with some extra water. If you do use a very salty stock, you will find that the risotto will be very salty, as the cheese adds a extra salt element.
In a large saucepan, add some olive oil and fry your finely chopped onion until it is translucent.
At the same time, heat a frypan and cook your chosen vegetables for the meal.
Add the 2 cups of rice and cook them until they have soaked up all the oil.
Note – Don’t cook the rice until it has browned a little bit. I have done this and it does not end well.
Add the 2 cups of wine. This is when the stirring really starts so make sure that you have a ladle for spooning your stock onto the rice.
Once the wine has been absorbed, start adding the stock. Keep stirring constantly (yes, you can leave the saucepan to do other things) and keep in mind that the more that you stir, the creamier your risotto shall be.
Once you have added 4 cups of stock, taste your rice. It should be soft on the outside, but still a little bit crunchy on the inside. Add one more cup of stock and try again before you add the last cup. Is the rice really soft and mushy, or is there still a tiny amount of crunch left?
Once your rice has reached the desired consistency, add the 1/2 cup of parmesan cheese. Stir in, along with the fried vegetables and there you have it…. you have made risotto!
Sidenote: I like my risotto a bit “dryer” than some of the other recipes that I have seen on the net. If you want a “soupier” risotto, just add some milk or a little bit more stock at the end.
Pesto chicken pasta is one of my “go-to” meals when I either don’t want to cook or need something to eat really quickly!
I actually made the meal before Alex and I went to meet some friends. We were both hungry but didn’t want to spend money on eating out so we made this quick and simple meal instead. In just over half an hour, I had cooked dinner, eaten it and was out the door! Needless to say, we did the washing up the next day!
The only adjustment I made for you is that I added the broccoli into the dish. Normally I do this with my pasta meals, but because of my rush to get out the door, I completely forgot until I was eating .
PESTO CHICKEN PASTA
1 jar of pesto
1 chicken breast
1 cup of frozen broccoli
Put a pot of water on to boil, add some salt to speed up the process. Once the water has boiled, measure out the amount of pasta that you want to cook and add it to the pot.
Meanwhile, chop up your chicken breast into small cubes. Once done, fry in large frypan with some olive oil.
Just before the pasta is cooked, add the frozen broccoli to the pasta. Please note, the broccoli doesn’t have to be in there long so do this step as late as possible.
Drain the pasta and broccoli with a colander and return it to the pot. Add about half the jar of pesto, the cooked chicken and enjoy 🙂