Fancy Pants Shepherd’s Pie: Slow Cooked Beef Brisket and Cauliflower Mash

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Beef Brisket and Cauliflower Mash Shepherd's Pie
Beef Brisket and Cauliflower Mash Shepherd’s Pie

I Instragramed my unexpectedly amazing reworking of a Shepherd’s Pie a few weeks ago and a couple of people asked me for the recipe so here goes.

I make everything up as I go, so apologies for any vagueness… in fact there is no guarantee at all that if you follow this recipe you don’t end up with something completely different like a soufflé or a new hat!

The beef:

I found cheep beef brisket with the bone in so i grabbed 2kg and chucked it in the slow cooker with:

1 x carrot

1x leek

1 clove garlic

Smokey BBQ sauce

Smokey chilli sauce (optional)

Herb rub: Smoked paprika (2 teaspoons), cumin (2 teaspoons), brown sugar (1.5 tabelspoons), salt & pepper (to taste), cayenne (1 teaspoon).

Mix the herbs and sugar together, rub all over the beef and pop on top of the carrot, leek and garlic (either whole or cut into chunks) with sauces (as much or as little as you fancy) and some water or stock or vinegar (need a bit of liquid. Put slow cooker on low, cook for 12 hours, let it cool, remove bones and fat and pull it. Reserve liquid from bottom of cooker, push through a sieve into a pot, add more bbq sauce, chilli etc to taste and reduce it down to a rich gravy, stir through meat.

The mash:

I love cauliflower and it makes such a fabulous alternative to starchy potatoes, especially when your toddler has a weird aversion to potato… seriously! Who doesn’t like potato? Weird kid…

1 head of cauliflower

I tablespoon of plain Yoghurt

1 tablespoon of grated parmesan cheese

1 teaspoon of butter

Cook cauliflower in boiling water for 10 mins. Drain. Put in food processor with a spoon full on natural yoghurt and some grated parmesan and a little butter, blend till smooth. Layer on top of beef in baking dish or something oven proof, top with tasty cheese. Bake at 200C for 10-12 mins or until golden.


Pulled Pork is Da Bomb!

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I am a huge fan of pulled pork. It found its way into my heart (and stomach) when I travelled to the States for the first time many lives ago. I make mine in a slow cooker because it is easy, hands off, delicious and a lot less smokey! I can pop it on, walk away and come back to yum.

I started with this amazing recipe as my inspiration and have evolved and adapted it into my perfect recipe, but huge kudos to this original gem!

I started watching way too much BBQ Pittmasters and started playing around with different flavours and combinations and here is my recipe (ps. I am not very exact on quantities, sorry!):


2 kg Pork Shoulder
Apple Cider Vinegar
Water or chicken stock
Garlic Powder
Smoked Paprika Ground
Cumin Ground
Brown Sugar
Chilli Powder
Frill Neck Lizard Smokey Chilli Sauce (amazing stuff! Here is some info )
Smokey BBQ sauce
Olive oil (optional)

This takes 5 minutes to put on, is amazing! I am pretty liberal with portions of things. Basically combine all of the ground spices into a rub with the brown sugar and cocoa (sounds weird i know, but yum). Use whatever ratios work for you, I tend to do roughly: 2 tablespoons of brown sugar, 2 teaspoons cocoa, 2 teaspoons cumin, and one of garlic, paprika and chilli. Rub pork with a little good quality olive oil and then rub spice mixture liberally all over pork.

Put about one cup of water or chicken/vegie stock into slow cooker, toss in a teaspoon of peppercorns. Squeeze in about 2 teaspoons of mollasses. Add about half a cup of apple cider vinegar. Put your pork in, pop the lid on, set it to low, walk away and laugh manically!!

Come back about 4 hours later, you will be able to tell your pork is done simply by putting a fork into an outer part and pulling gently, if it falls apart easily you are done, if not, give it another half an hour and come back.

Assuming it is done remove the pork to a tray/baking dish to cool. Carefully (that bad boy is hot) pour the liquid from the cooker through a seive into a saucepan. Set it to a high heat and start working your magic, you want to finesse the sauce and reduce it right down. Simmer for 15-30 mins depending on how much liquid you have. Add BBQ sauce and hot sauce to taste. You can also add more of any of the spices if you think it needs it and some more apple cider vinegar if it needs some sweetness.

Once you are happy with your sauce move onto your pork, peel off the outer layer of fat, pull with a fork then stir through your sauce. Your pork will hungrilly gobble the sauce up and be tender and delicious.

Serve as:

Tacos with corn, grilled capsicum and spicy avocado salsa, or:
Po’ Boys with spicy pineapple Slaw, or:
Pulled Pork Pizza with pine nuts and rocket – I whipped up the one below with some left over pork i had, just happened to have the pine nuts and rocket. Made the dough from scratch in no time too!

Pulled pork pizza with pine nuts and rocket
Pulled pork pizza with pine nuts and rocket

Women’s Weekly Birthday Party Cake Challenge

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In the time honoured tradition of home-style-a-little-messy-but-totally-delicious birthday cakes I have embarked on an annual challenge to take on a different Women’s Weekly Birthday Cake each year. So far so good… Here is a comparison of my first two attempts:

Birthday 1: The Guitar Cake

Guitar Cake June 2014
Guitar Cake June 2014

Birthday 2: The Robot Cake

Robot Cake: June 2015
Robot Cake: June 2015

I gave myself some creative license with the decorating on the Robot and I used my tried and tested icing of awesome, here is the recipe:

Icing mixture
Fresh cream
Cream cheese
Lemon rind grated
(Food colouring for the Robot)

I don’t really measure, just make how much I need, the key is not to add too much cream, it will be too runny to make decorating possible. Start with the icing mixture, add a tablespoon of cream cheese, add a tiny bit of cream and the lemon rind and whisk, adding cream until you have a nice consistency.

Fun cakes can be yummy too!

DIY Pastrami and the glorious Reuben

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Reuben sandwich
Reuben sandwich

DIY Reuben sandwich, I even made the pastrami myself, and the thousand island dressing… But not the kraut, cause that takes months and I was hungry!


A cultural shemozzle

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Beef and Lentil Spiced Meatballs
Beef and Lentil Spiced Meatballs

I had some lentils and Zig likes meatballs so I got a bit creative and made up the following meal, which was really, surprisingly awesome: beef and lentil spiced meatballs with quinoa tabouli and mint yoghurt.

Zig was not too sure about the tabouli but demanded seconds of the meatballs. I essentially just combined mince, cooked lentils, cumin, a little smoked paprika and an egg and cooked them up. The tahbouli was quinoa, parsley,  mint, sliced cherry tomatos and a little lemon juice. I served them with Lebanese bread and yoghurt with a bit of mint and lemon, rolled them up and… mmmmmmm


Kalamata Olive, Lemon and Rosemary Bread

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Kalamata olive, rosemary and lemon loaf
Kalamata olive, rosemary and lemon loaf

I recently found this great 5 minute bread recipe that took making bread from a scary out-of-this-world concept to a very doable proposition. The only limitations I have found do far is that it goes stale rather quickly, but i think this is largely to do with the quality of flour I am using… finding specialise bread flour has been much harder than I expected!

But I took this great recipe, made a few creative additions with olives, dried rosemary and grated lemon rind and yum!!!!. I basically just added them to the dough just before baking.

Pavlova – the Journey from failure to deconstructed deliciousness

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I have never made meringue before but I was really confident… alas a well-honed self-esteem is not always enough in the land of egg whites. All was going well, then i took a little too big of a break when trying to get the sugar measured and added and… boom! Flop!

I baked it anyway, even though it was essentially a puddle on a baking tray. What came out did not look like a cake-store window but it tasted wonderful, so I crushed it up, got creative and made little individual deconstructed Pavs, simply layering Pav crumbs, cream and rasberries and mango. Yum! Nice Xmas save!