Sometimes I like cooking recipes that take a bit more effort – like the time I threw a Valentine’s Day party and spent hours cutting out dozens of heart shapes from pita bread, and baking them in the oven to create heart-shaped crackers to serve with three kinds of pink-ish dip (beetroot, taramasalata and salsa, since you asked). My guests enjoyed the food as I fell asleep on the couch! Hmm, now that I think about it, that’s more like food craft than cooking!
19 Aug 2011 - 9:33 AM  UPDATED 21 Aug 2014 - 11:09 AM

At other times, I like cooking dishes that are easy, and this beef with black vinegar recipe (page 34) definitely falls into that category. I headed into Chinatown on a Sunday morning to get the black vinegar and had visions of a quick pit stop at Crazy Wings for some Beijing-style barbecue skewers while I was there. Alas, the parking gods were not on my side; after doing two laps, I gave up – next time, Crazy Wings, I promise!

However, I was thrilled to discover Asian supermarket nirvana on my way home, by way of an innocuous-looking store that was a treasure-trove of ingredients. I loaded up on black vinegar and Chinese cooking wine for this recipe, then couldn’t resist fresh rice noodles, some chilli bean sauce and a 'wife cake" (a rice filling in a sweet pastry case). I was inspired and overwhelmed in equal measure.

Back at home, five minutes of chopping was all it took and prep was done. Talk about easy! Onto the stovetop and I spent some fruitful time at the sewing machine while this dish looked after itself. The aromas along the way augured well, and Mr Ed commented on it as soon as he arrived home from a tough afternoon on the golf course. Served over rice, this was the perfect lazy Sunday dinner – full of flavour but not too spicy – and I loved the textural contrast between the beef and the mushrooms. And leftovers for lunch the next day were just as delicious. If you’ve re-created this recipe at home, let me know what you and your family thought of it.

The second issue of Feast goes on sale Monday September 5, and I’ll be posting my next Cookalong recipe then.

Editor, Feast