A world beyond spag bol

Sponsored by Nuffnang

Welcome to my third in a series of posts on the concept of value, written to mark the release of Kia’s new Cerrato Hatch. Ahh, for a life when a hatch would be feasible.

Previously on allconsuming we’ve read my awesome insights into tightening the family’s budgetary belt or how to add value to your own life without spending any money. I know, I’m like the Who Weekly of self-help.

So this week we’re looking at ways to feed the family for less while not sacrificing on nutrition. Yes yes, it could all be about the pasta and 100 ways with mince but I think we all know how quickly we tire of spag bol.

I’m hear to tell you that value does not just come from buying cheap cuts of meat or buying in bulk or buying when on sale. Sure those are components to me finding value in meals but it goes much further than that.

Herbs and spices.

No really.

Last night I made meatloaf with 500g beef mince and 500g turkey mince. There were four slices of bread in there, one egg, one onion, one carrot, salt, pepper, two tablespoons of tomato paste and 2 teaspoons of dijon mustard. What lifted this from the humdrum of meatloaf to a dinner devoured by all? About 10 sage leaves, several sprigs of  flat-leafed parsley and the same again of basil all from the garden. Dinner sang and all for the princely sum of around $14. It fed seven people with leftovers.


If mince is one of your five food groups as it is ours, what about a Morrocan spiced mince served over couscous instead of spag bol? Start off the same way (by sauteeing some onion, carrot, garlic and celery if you have it) but then add some ground cumin and coriander, a whiff of cinnamon, fresh coriander and a can of chickpeas.

How about sang chow bow – it’s one way of getting your kids to eat lettuce at least. Throw in some five spice, some ginger, chopped water chestnuts, finely julienned carrot and a splash of sesame oil and away you go.

You could almost follow the meatloaf recipe above and instead of bolognaise make Italian meatballs (throw in a handful or two of parmesan if you like). Just roll into balls sized just how you like, dust in a little flour, pan fry in a smidge of oil, pour over a jar of sugo or a pureed tin of tomatoes and some stock if needed, simmer away and voila, meatballs you can serve with pasta or veggies.

Or look, go completely retro and make some old-fashioned rissoles. Bigger versions of the meatballs but flatten them slightly. Again, pan fry in a little oil until nicely browned on both sides. Remove from the frypan and add a splash more oil if needed. Add a finely sliced onion and brown in the juices of the rissoles. Stir in a nice big heaped tablespoon or two of flour and cook for a minute or two. Then stir in some stock – make sure you get all the bits stuck to the base of the frypan off and smoosh it all together, getting rid of any lumps in the flour as you go. Add enough stock to make a decent gravy then return the rissoles to the pan and cook in the simmering gravy until cooked through. Seriously, so so good.

Value can equal variety.

This post was sponsored by KIA. To celebrate the great value of new KIA Cerato Hatch, a website has been launched so you and your family can get some great value offers and deals. Check out one of this week’s awesome deals: Buy a Xmas hamper from Hampers Only valued at $95+ and receive a FREE bottle of Hanwood 10 Year Old Tawny Port at www.getmorevalue.com.au.

Citrus Beef Stir-fry

I’m always a bit reticent to post these sorts of recipes because I fear the cultural travesties I’m committing may send some into apoplexy, but DUDES, this is so so good. I initially lifted this from a blog with the best name ever, Crepes of Wrath and have just altered it slightly.

There’s a chicken version I’ll post soon too. Both of these dishes enter the hallowed halls of the rarefied family dinner loved by all.

Citrus Beef Stir-fry
via Crepes of Wrath

  • 1 kg beef (I use sirloin steak or the pre-cut stir-fry beef from our lovely butchers if it’s on special) sliced thinly (and you all know the trick to getting really thin slices it to cut the beef when it is semi-frozen?)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup plain  flour
  • 1/3 cup cornstarch
  • 2/3 cup oil, for cooking (now, I used this amount and next time would definitely only use half, if that)
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1-2 tsp sriracha or other chili garlic paste (I used Sambal Oelek)
  • 4 green onions, sliced
  • 1 tablespoon black vinegar (CoW used balsamic vinegar)
  • 3/4 tsp sesame oil
  • 5 tbsp soy sauce
  • 5 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp ground ginger (I used freshly grated)
  • 1/4 cup black vinegar
  • juice of 2 oranges (I used limes)
  • zest of 1 orange (again, I used limes)
  • 1/4 cup water (I used stock) mixed with 1 tbsp cornstarch
  1. Combine the beef with the egg, salt, pepper, flour, cornstarch and 1 tablespoon of oil – best do this with your hands to ensure it all gets well coated
  2. Heat the oil in a wok then add the beef, and cook over high heat until it’s getting a nice crisp to it.
  3. In a separate frypan cook the garlic, sriracha, green onions, 1 tablespoon of black vinegar and the sesame oil for about 5 minutes 
  4. Combine the soy, sugar, ginger, 1/4 cup black vinegar, orange (or lime) juice and zest and then add them to the frypan
  5. Keep tossing your beef so it’s nice and crispy
  6. Bring the sauce to a light boil then add the 1 tablespoon of cornstarch mixed with 1/4 cup of water. Heat everything until is starts to thicken, about 3-4 minutes
  7. Pour over the beef and toss to coat, then cook for another 3 or 4 minutes until the sauce is as thick as you’d like it to be. 
  8. Serve over rice with greens.

Old fashioned beef casserole

So Thursday afternoons are challenging as the bigger boys have swimming lessons which involve me trying to keep track on two little boys in the vicinity of three very busy swimming pools while trying to be the attentive parent to the boys in the pool swimming their ever-growing lungs out.

It also means we don’t get home until 6pm so it has become, by default, slow cook Thursday with me getting something in the oven at around 2.30pm to slow cook until we get home. This week I just made up a beef casserole because people, if I had to eat chicken or pasta one more night I was going to eat my own head.

The amounts are a bit fluid – sorry about that.

Old fashioned beef casserole

  • 3 onions, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 1.5kg chuck steak, cut into cubes
  • plain flour
  • salt and pepper
  • 2-3 carrots, chopped
  • 4-6 potatoes, chopped into medium sized chunks
  • good handful or so of button mushrooms, cut in half or quarters for larger ones
  • 1 litre beef stock
  • water
  1. Season the flour with salt and pepper then toss the meat in the flour
  2. Heat a little olive oil and brown the meat in batches
  3. Remove from the pan and add another dash of oil then saute the onion until nice and soft and goldeny
  4. Add the garlic and cook off for a minute or two
  5. Then add the carrots, potatoes, mushrooms, stock and water
  6. Bung on the lid and put in a 180C oven and cook for about 2 hours. If you need to put it in earlier then cook it at 150C for as long as you like really.


I adore meatloaf so it was with some personal consternation that I realised Winter was almost is over and I hadn’t made it once. Shocking. I make the Martha Stewart Meatloaf 101 so if anyone has any variations on the theme, I’d love to hear from you!

Martha Stewart’s Meatloaf 101
From The Martha Stewart Living Cookbook, Marth Stewart (the 2000 edition)

  • 3 slices white bread
  • 1 large carrot
  • 1 celery stick
  • 1/2 medium yellow onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 1/2 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
  • 1/2 cup tomato sauce (ketchup)
  • 2 tsp dry mustard
  • 8oz (250g) pork mince
  • 8oz (250g) veal mince
  • 8oz (250g) beef mince (ground round)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tsp salt*
  • 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper*
  • 1 tsp hot red-pepper sauce (I never add this)
  • 1/2 tsp rosemary, chopped

For the glaze

  • 3 tblsp tomato sauce (ketchup)
  • 2.5tsp dry mustard
  • 2 tblsp packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 smal red onion, cut into 1/4 inch rings
  • 3tblsp water
  1. Preheat the oven to 200c (400F)
  2. Remove crusts from bread and process in a food processor until they’re fine breadcrumbs and tip into a bowl
  3. Mince the carrot, celery and onion in the food processor and add to the breadcrumbs
  4. Add the ketchup, mustard, pork, veal, beef, eggs, salt, pepper, hot sauce and rosemary
  5. Use your hands and knead ingredients until thoroughly combined – the mixture should be wet but tight enough to hold a free-form shape
  6. Set a wire baking rack in a 12×17 inch baking pan and cut a 5×11 inch piece of baking paper over the centre of the rack to stop the meat loaf from falling through
  7. Use your hands to form an elongated loaf on the paper

To make the glaze

  1. Mix the sauce, mustard and brown sugar in a bowl until smooth then using a pastry brush generously smear it all over the loaf
  2. Heat the oil in a small pan and cook the onion until it’s soft and golden in places
  3. Add the water and cook, stirring until most of the water has evaporated
  4. Cool slightly then sprinkle over the meatloaf
  1. Cook for 30 minutes, then sprinkle over some extra rosemary then bake for another 25 minutes or until a thermometre measures 160F on the inside of the loaf (I never do this as I don’t have one of those meat thermometres)
  2. Let it sit for 15 minutes or so before slicing.

Serve with veggies. It is just sensational.

* I mean, does anyone measure salt and pepper into their recipes?

Satay Beef Stir Fry with Vegetables and Hokkien Noodles

I’ve got a satay sauce recipe that I’ll post next as it is sensational but a bit more complex than the one below.
That said, the one below is very tasty, very easy to pull together and was a big hit in this household. A big thank you to Krista who posted it the other day. The amounts below are pretty flexible – just taste and add more of the bits you like. You can also – of course – use whatever vegetables take your fancy. I am moderately obsessed with broccolini at the moment. In fact, apart from broccoli with orrechiete, I doubt I will ever go back to steamed normal broccoli with dinner any time soon.

Satay Beef Stir Fry with Vegetables and Hokkien Noodles

  • 500g beef (I used rump steak from the pointy end, it was divinely tender and tasty)
  • splash of soy sauce
  • freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1 carrot, cut into sticks
  • 1 bunch broccolini, cut into lengths
  • 6 shallots, cut into lengths
  • 2tbsp sesame seeds, toasted in a hot dry wok at the very start
  • fresh coriander, chopped
  • 1 x 600g packet fresh hokkien noodles, prepared according to the packet
  1. Slice the beef thinly and drizzle over some soy sauce and lots of freshly cracked pepper
  2. Heat a smidge of oil in a wok and over high heat quickly sear the meat in small batches* – don’t let it stew in there, it can be pretty rare as it will keep cooking when you set it aside and throw it back in at the end – and set aside in a dish
  3. Heat a little bit more oil and add the carrots, I add a splash of water here and throw the lid on for a minute or so just to help cook them so they’re not hard but still have a good bite
  4. Add the broccolini and shallots and again, maybe add a splash of water if you need to get some steam in there to aid the cooking process
  5. Return the meat to the pan, toss through
  6. Add the noodles and the sauce
  7. Sprinkle over the sesame seeds and fresh coriander to serve.

Quick and easy satay sauce

  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 8 tbsp peanut butter
  • 6 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 cloves garlic, smooshed
  • 4 tsp ginger, minced
  • 2 tbsp sesame oil
  • 2 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 4 tsp sugar
  • pinch cayenne (I forgot this)
  1. Mix together and adjust flavours to taste

It’s that simple folks.
Dinner on the table in like 15 minutes.

* it took me so long to accept that this was the way to do it. Patience is not something I have much of so it was a very begrudging acceptance that searing meat in a stir-fry in small batches resulted in an infinitely better end dish. But it does. So just suck it up and do it right. Small batches, high heat, quick.