Saturday, February 11, 2012

Beef in Red Wine with Kumara Mash (low calorie)

In my recent weight loss journey (4 kgs down this year) I have been experimenting with new low calorie recipes and love it when I have a win like this one- a meal that is just as satisfying as any higher calorie alternative. The way the meat is braised in red wine means that zero fat even touches the beef, and the kumara mash (sweet potato) with the addition of a dash of orange juice proves a zestier and healthier alternative to potato mash. This recipe is from a cookbook I am in love with at the moment, Womens Weekly 'Super Diet', where all the calorie breakdowns have already been done for you so makes my life easier. The only thing that would have made this dish better would be a big glass of good red wine, but due to my 'Febfasting' (almost to the half way point!) I settled for diet soda instead.

Beef in Red Wine with Kumara Mash (this serves four, I halved the recipe)

4 cloves garlic
3 cups red wine
2 cups water
8 sprigs fresh thyme
600g middle-cut beef eye fillet
1 large sweet potato
1/4 cup fresh orange juice
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
Asparagus, grilled (my addition)

1. Bruise unpeeled garlic by hitting with the flat blade of a heavy knife.
2. Combine garlic, wine, water and thyme in a large deep saucepan and bring to the boil. Boil for five minutes. Add beef, simmer, uncovered for about 30 minutes or as desired, turning beef once. Remove beef, wrap in foil and stand for ten minutes (Don't hesitate to ask butcher when buying the meat how long it will take to get to your desired colour- I did my 300gram piece for only 10-15 minutes as I like it quite rare).
3. Meanwhile make mash- steam kumara (cut into pieces) until soft. Cool. Peel kumara, place in large saucepan, roughly mash. Add juice and thyme, stir over medium heat until hot. Season to taste. (Don't be afraid to try the orange juice! It really bought out some great flavours in the kumara).
4. Slice beef, serve with kumara mash, asparagus and mustard.
(384 calories)

L x

The Horn, Collingwood

With all the travelling I have done in the last few years, sometimes 'normal' eating out just doesn't excite me, and thats when I will usually convince the man to take me somewhere that offers a completely different style of food than we usually eat. Our visit to African/Ethiopian restaurant 'The Horn' on Friday night was one of these occasions. The minute I saw the option of eating with your hands, I knew this would be just the kind of cultural excitement I need to help tide me over until my next trip (and since there is no overseas travel on the agenda this year, I may need plenty of these).

The setting is casual and cosy, with African music playing at a DJ table and stressed but polite staff. There is food for all tastes on the menu, but I would advise those who cannot handle any chili to stay away- even the milder dishes had a pleasant kick to them! We both agreed that prices are pretty hefty for the size of the dishes ($60 for two entrees, two mains, a beer and a soda) but I guess you pay the price for a unique dining experience that isn't offered at too many places around Melbourne.

For entree we enjoyed 'Samboosa', pastries stuffed with beef mince and vegetables, similar to a samosa or curry puff. I preferred the 'Zil Zil', marinated chicken crumbed in white and black sesame seeds. Both were served with a spicy Ethopian salsa.

Our mains (designed to be shared) consisted of Do Ba Wat, a beef (melt in your mouth tender) and pumpkin curry that had beautiful flavours and a real chili kick and Asa Ba Ata which was the fish of the day in a lentil dahl which was enjoyable but somewhat bland and lacking a kick. The meals are automatically served with injera bread which serves as your cutlery for the dish. Thats right, you are forced to leave your comfort zone and use the bread to pick up the morsels of food. The bread was a very simple crepe like consistancy and seemed to simply be used as a tool rather than flavour itself. I quite enjoyed this new way of eating!

I don't know if I would go back to The Horn as although I enjoyed the flavours, trying it once was enough. I will definitely scope out the rest of the African scene in Melbourne though. If you are looking for a unique night out with friends, do give it a try- just remember to book as this place was packed out by the time we left.

L xx
Horn on Urbanspoon

Taco Truck

 I just love the concept of the Taco Truck- a travelling food van, stopping at random spots around town, where masses flock to the roadside and throw down picnic blankets to have a Mexican feast. What a great way to dine! I follow the Taco Truck via Facebook, so each day I am updated with where the Taco Truck will be daily for lunch and dinner.

On this particular warm Friday evening, the truck was at Merri Station, Northcote, perched on a grassy embankment where huge amounts of people lined up in the sun for tacos. The food is just as good as the novelty of it- fresh, soft taco's available in chicken, fish or potato flavours, along with homemade chips and zesty guacamole. The fish took my fancy the most via the menu, but taste wise it was the chicken taco that will have me going back for more- the marinade on that chicken is amazing, and the fresh corn kernels really make it. The fish was also really enjoyable, but bit of a battered fish overload.

At ten bucks for a plate of two taco's with a handful of chips, its an easy and relatively healthy alternative to Friday night pizza in your living room! Add it on Facebook- Taco Truck Melbourne- and find it next time its in your area (or go for a drive if it isn't!). Well worth it.
Taco Truck on Urbanspoon