The fresh foods cook book, 238pp.
no author named
Summit Books, Sydney, 1975
Cooking on page 32
This is an unusual book and there’s a funny story about how I came to own it.
First the unusual. This is a 3-in-1 book, with each section starting over again at page 1. The first part is about growing vegetables, the second looks at elegant meals made with inexpensive meats and the third focuses on Oriental recipes. It has a look-alike companion volume called The growing and preserving book, which is also divided into three parts. So six page 32s!
Now for the funny. I saw these two books at the Kingston news agent’s when I first came to Australia in the early 1980s. I thought about buying them, but didn’t. I mean, $18 for two books with three parts each? What a bargain.
About that time, Kerrie, a neighbour, said she’d seen an interesting couple of cookbooks that she was thinking about buying. She didn’t say where and didn’t mention price.
A week later, I was in Kingston again and those cookbooks were still ‘calling’ to me, so I bought both. Imagine my surprise—and Kerrie’s too—when I showed them to her and they were the books she’d been wanting. I felt guilty and offered to give her both, but she said no, I should keep them.
When I went to cook from page 32 in the recipe section of The fresh foods cook book, I was surprised to find that it was for a dish I used to make often in the 1980s.
Shish kebab sauté
1 1/2 to 2 pounds boneless round steak
Red wine marinade (recipe below)
1 medium onion, quartered and thinly sliced
5 tablespoons butter or margarine
1 green pepper, quartered, seeded and cut into crosswise strips
250 g mushrooms, quartered
1 medium tomato, cut into 8 wedges
Red wine marinade
Thoroughly mix 1/2 cup dry red wine, 2 tablespoons salad oil, 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce, 1 clove garlic (minced or crushed), 1 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon crumbled rosemary, 1/8 teaspoon thyme and a dash of pepper. Note: marinade can be refrigerated and reused.
Trim fat and cut steak across the grain into bite-size strips about 5mm thick and 2.5cm wide. Place in marinade in a shallow bowl; cover and chill 2 to 3 hours or longer. Drain meat well on paper towels, reserving marinade for later use.
Cook onion in 2 tablespoons of the butter or margarine in a large frying pan over medium heat until it is lightly browned. Add green pepper; cook, stirring, until limp and bright green. Remove and reserve the vegetables. Brown mushrooms in 2 tablespoons more butter in the same pan; add to green pepper mixture. In remaining butter, cook steak strips quickly, about a third at a time, turning with tongs just until browned on both sides.
Return all the steak and vegetables to the pan with tomato wedges and 2 tablespoons of the reserved marinade. Cook, stirring lightly, just until mixture is heated through. Salt to taste.
Makes 6 servings.
How it played out
Made as written. But this time I added more ‘flavour’—some thyme and parsley, plus some chilli and garlic—in both the marinade and cooking process.
I didn’t save the marinade for another use. I wouldn’t trust it.
I made this often when the girls were young. It’s all fresh ingredients, and quick and easy to make. We enjoyed it then, and I could make it with my eyes closed. But flavour-wise, we’ve all moved so far beyond this. We like chilli, fish sauce, cumin and all sorts of other powerhouse flavours.
So while there is nothing at all wrong with this recipe, it just doesn’t have the oomph we’ve all become used to. If you aren’t that reliant on oomph, you’ll love this.