Last week, I shared a photo on my personal Facebook of No3 and No4 in their pjs helping create burgers for dinner. That photo has to be the most liked and commented photo I’ve put up in ages. It wasn’t the ‘oh that’s cute’ comments that surprised me – that’s why I posted the picture. They were, in my parentally biased opinion, totally and utterly cute.
Stephen King would skewer me for using so many adverbs in that sentence. Just to change the subject a little. A minor diversionary tactic.
What really surprised me about the photo was the amazement that people seemed to have over seeing toddlers put a few pre-cut vegetables onto a burger bun. Perhaps it was because I called it ‘cooking’. Still, they have to start somewhere. And I figure that if they like eating; and if they like asking to help again and again and again and again… Then they should help.
They washed their hands, and set up chairs to stand on. Poor No3 suffered a pants problem as he climbed up. The problem with being the third kid to wear a set of pjs is that the elastic gets a little saggy. He hitched up his pants and was ready.
I cut open the burger buns and they spread sauce on one side and aioli on the other. I cut up all the salad veges and they placed them on the burgers in a creative pattern. The type of artistic creativity that only a child can invent. Somewhere between messy and planned by an imagination yet to be beaten down by reality. Then they went off to play while I finished the burger.
It was a simple way to get them involved, and hopefully it keeps them happy for a week or so before they go back to bugging the crap out of me. Mum, can we help? Can we HELP? Can we? Can we?
Now, it might surprise you – or not, if you read the header, that this story is not about burgers. It’s about a good old fashioned smoked piece of beef.
The trend for American style BBQ doesn’t seem to be abating. Instead, Australia has seen a huge leap in the number of places offering New York style Rueben sandwiches, or southern fried chicken (aka Belles Hot Chicken), or smoked BBQ meats.
Because this is Australia, and we are basically an Asian country (at least in how we eat), I’ve created a semi-traditional brisket smoked in our camp oven, with a side of Asian style slaw. Say it with your mouth wide open in an American accent: slaaah. This is an easy method for smoking meat when you have only a standard BBQ. All you need is a cast iron camp oven, which you can purchase at any camping shop.
No2 got the Harry Potter Cookbook for his birthday on the day I made this, and he was desperate to make Hagrid’s rock cakes. We modified the recipe from the book by removing the raisins and had them as a side dish with the brisket and slaw. The hint of sweetness and cinnamon went surprisingly well with the richness of the rest of the dish. We ate them fresh, so they were soft. Like the book says “For rock-hard rock cakes like Hagrid’s, just bake them for too long and eat them a week later at your own risk.”
- 2kg brisket
- 1kg Brussel sprouts
- 1 handful flavoured salt (I used Tasmanian wild spice salt to give it an Aussie bush pepper flavour. For a more USA style, use a chili salt. There are loads of options at the supermarket.)
- Smoking chips (you can buy these at camping shops, Bunnings and most supermarkets in the BBQ section)
Soak the smoking chips in water for about 20 minutes. This helps release the flavour and gives the meat an initial steam which keeps it tender. Drain off the water, then place the chips on the bottom of the camp oven, then put a grill over the top.
Rub the brisket all over with the flavoured salt. Place the brisket on the grill, and surround with Brussel sprouts. Put the lid on the camp oven and place onto the BBQ hotplate. If you have a BBQ with a lid, this helps as it keeps the heat around the camp oven. If not, you might find that it takes longer because only the bottom of the camp oven will heat up. So either close the lid, or wrap the whole BBQ in tinfoil to keep the heat in. Leave for 4 hours. You can also do this method in an open fire when camping – simply place a few coals from the fire onto the lid of the camp oven to give it an all over heat. The smoked Brussel sprouts are a thing of beauty. Completely black on the outside, and creamy soft on the inside. Like no Brussel sprout you have ever tried before.
- ½ wombok (Chinese cabbage)
- 1 carrot
- 1 capsicum
- 1 spring onion
- ¾ cup rice wine vinegar
- 1 spoon sugar
- Salt and pepper
- ½ cup mayonnaise
- ½ cup sour cream
- 2 spoon of horseradish sauce
- 1 splash of fish sauce
Put the rice wine vinegar, sugar, salt and pepper into a non-reactive bowl (like glass). Finely slice all ingredients and place into the vinegar. Mix it all around and let it rest for 10 minutes. While it rests, make the dressing. Put all the dressing ingredients in a different bowl and mix them together.
Drain off the vinegar from the vegetables, then mix through the dressing.
Harry Potter rock cakes
- 2 cups flour
- ½ cup sugar
- 1 tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp cinnamon
- ½ tsp salt
- 110g cold butter (plus extra for pan)
- 1 egg
- 1/3 cup milk
Rub a large flat baking pan with the extra butter so the cakes don’t stick. Preheat the oven to 180°C.
In a large bowl, add the flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. Cut the butter into chunks, then rub it into the flour mix until the mixture looks like wet sand.
In a separate bowl, place the egg with the milk and beat together. Pour into the flour (sand) mixture and fold together.
Using a tablespoon, drop blobs of the mixture onto the baking pan. They will be ugly and sticky. You should make about 12 lumps.
Bake in the oven at 180°C for 25 minutes until the bottoms are golden.