Meal 1 – Sunday Night – Veal and Three Veg

Today was a busy day. I had an assignment to write for a course I am doing, as well as washing on the line and wanted to get to Iron Cove for a long walk to eliminate as much as possible the effect of yesterday’s pavlova and baklava. Compounding this timetable was a Rugby League game on TV (the Tigers losing to the Sea Eagles), the Great (yawn) debate between Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Opposition Leader Tony Abbott and lastly the Masterchef Australia Grand Finale. This left me exactly a 30-minute window between the end of the football and the start of the debate.

So – simple, quick and not too expensive. Head in the fridge and out came the ingredients:

  1. Two Veal T-bones
  2. 4 rashers of bacon
  3. 4 Royal Blue Potatoes
  4. Two packets of Heinz “Steam Fresh” vegetables (yes, I know – this is probably cheating but we’ve given up throwing out lots of uneaten fresh vegetables so the packets of frozen vegetables provide a very good alternative for us).

So, this was easy as.

Peel potatoes, dice and add to a pan of cold water, bring to the boil then drain and mash with some butter and milk. Season with garlic granules and black pepper.

Season the steaks with some salt and pepper and add to a hot pan – turning the heat down to a medium to hot level. Fry until the cooked colour moves half way up the side of the steak then turn the steak. Cook for the same amount of time, then remove from the pan and let rest.

Stick the frozen vegetables in the microwave and nuke them for a couple of minutes. In the meantime, add the bacon to the pan the steaks were cooked in and cook them.

Serve with the bacon on top of the steak, mashed potato and vegetables to the side.

Total preparation and cooking time was about 25 minutes and the meal consisted of meat, potatoes and the equivalent of nearly two serves of vegetables. Boring and plain perhaps and because of that, only rating about a 6/10 but it certainly fitted all the parameters.

Sausage Stew

We got home tonight and madam noted, “I’m bloody hungry, how long before dinner?” After some negotiation we agreed that I would knock something up and serve in 30 minutes. This was at the same time as cooking some cupcakes.

So, it was like a combination of Ready, Steady, Cook and Masterchef. An invention test in 30 minutes.

Out came the following ingredients (and it is sort of embarrassing using so few but also rather satisfying to manage it with what was in the pantry):

  1. Four large sausages – this will work with long breakfast sausages as well – I had four organic beef sausage, gluten free in the fridge.
  2. A 500 ml tetra pak of Campbell’s Velish – a thick vegetable soup. Really, any of the flavours could be used however I just used the plain vegetable.
  3. Two onions and two cloves of garlic.
  4. A packet of frozen mixed vegetables – one of the small packets is fine. Equally you could subsitute corn and peas.

OK – simple as. Chop the garlic. The onion was halved then cut in slices. Cut the sausages to bite sized chunks.

Take a skillet, slurp a little olive oil into it, and toss in the garlic. When you get that nice garlic smell coming off the pan, add the onion. As the onion starts to go translucent, add the sausages and brown them in the pan. When they are browned, add the Velish and bring up to just short of boiling (well, when you get the first bubbles).

When the soup is hot, add the frozen vegetable and simmer the whole lot for about 10 minutes, stirring every so often.

I also made some mashed potatoes (if you don’t know how to cook them, Google it 😆  ). Serve the stew with some mashed potatoes.

For a variation (and for a quick cheat), when adding the frozen vegetables, you could add a spoon or two of Keen’s Curry Powder (add to taste) and have a Curried Sausage Stew. In this case, serve with rice rather than potatoes.

The score for the invention test was 7/10 … although the cupcakes scored 9  😆

Talking about Best Cheeseburger in Ulaanbaatar

Since I wrote the blog shown as the track back for this, a number of people in Ulaanbaatar (or those who have visited Ulaanbaatar) have come back to me and said, “Yes, but what about the cheeseburgers at [insert favourite restaurant name here]”? I never realised that cheeseburgers created more interest around the world then say the Mongolian style of cooking with hot river stones.OK, I am a fair-minded kind of guy and my ever-faithful translator and aide confidante, Baggy (Baagi) likes a challenge so the result is, after much discussion around lunch today, the two of us will survey ALL the cheeseburgers we can find in Ulaanbaatar and will rate them accordingly. We do this for two reasons:

  1. As a public service to those who may visit Ulaanbaatar and wonder where to get the best cheeseburger
  2. Because whilst we like the restaurant critic from the UB Post (Hi Mark), he assesses restaurants. We want more granularity so are going for a single dish (and thus at the stroke of a pen ruling out all the Korean, Indian and Chinese Restaurants in town
  3. We, both of us, have our more fulsome figure to think of and will therefore be happy to sacrifice for the betterment of visitors to Ulaanbaatar

And yes, I can’t count.

We will publish the results of our survey on an ongoing basis to a separate web page (I am sure that Jeffro, Number One Son and family technical genius can give me a sub-domain to http://cheeseburger.coldie.net/) to record the results of our survey.

Baggy and I, at great personal expense, will attempt at least one cheeseburger a week and try to have the results published each weekend. We see this as a wonderful winter project. There will be a two to three week hiatus to this in October whilst I return to Australia to visit family, but folks, for the winter, it is cheeseburger “game on”.

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Best Cheeseburger in Ulaanbaatar
Being a gentleman of, shall we say, more fulsome figure, eating seems to have been a prominent part of my life. Travelling a lot has meant many meals in hotels. Business has resulted in even more restaurant meals. After a while, though, what Thomo really craves is simple food, the sort of stuff you’d cook at home. Be that a humble chicken sandwich or just a bowl of soup and fresh bread. Travelling can get tiring food-wise after a time. By the time you’ve got to your third Duck l’Orange or Pheasant Under Glass it is all starting to taste the same.

  • California – A US style restaurant and bar on Seoul Street. The cheeseburgers here have a combination of quality (good meet, cheese and supplementary items) as well as quantity (recommendation is to start eating the cheeseburger first then come back to the chips).
  • Dave’s Place – Where the beer is, of course, X-cellent. Dave does a quite reasonable cheeseburger too.
  • Millies – Smaller that California’s (and also a little cheaper too for that matter), Millies’ cheeseburgers are a good lunch from time to time.

Mongolia does not have any McDonald’s, Burger Kings or the like, so there is no problem defining a good cheeseburger here.

Mongolian Barbeque?? No, Khorkhog

The rocks, meat, potato and carrots are added to the pot

I have to admit, before coming to Mongolia I really had no idea of the style of cooking and food used in Mongolia. I mean, I had eaten Mongolian Lamb at the local Chinese Restaurant, I had eaten Shabu Shabu at other places and of course, I had heard of Mongolian barbeque, barbequing on hot rocks. Well, I have to say that generally the Mongolians are a patient people so will wait for lambs to grow up and become sheep (mutton), I have never seen anything resembling Shabu Shabu and the only barbeque I have seen in Mongolia is at BDs Mongolian Barbeque Restaurant which is, of course, an American chain. As a barbeque is an outside meal in Australia (and one cooked traditionally by men), I decided to recount the local equivalent. This is Khorkhog (pronounced like “horhog”) and is where river stones are heated in a fire and then added to the cooking pot along with mutton meat, potatoes (OK, so this is only a 500 year old traditional Mongolian Meal as potatoes of course were not known in this part of the world until only a few hundred years ago) and carrots.

The food is layered with a little water, hot rocks and salt and built to the top of the pot. The pot itself ideally should be airtight (and yes, I am wondering how traditional an airtight pot can be). In the case of my favourite Mongolian Family, a pressure cooker is used. The handles of the cooker are wrapped in wet rags to protect them from the later flames and heat. So, place some rocks from the fire, then meat, potato, carrots and a little salt. Add some more rocks and repeat the food layer. Keep doing this until the pot is full. Put the top back on and then place the pot back in the fire. Leave for about 30 minutes to an hour (no real rush here).

When the stuff in the pot is cooked, remove from fire, open carefully and serve. The liquid is put into a cup and passed around as a sort of really rich soup. The meat, potatoes and carrots are just so tasty. Eat with some pickles and wash down with ones favourite libation. Heaven.