Tips on How to Buy Steaks

The average Irish person loves meat and it is usually a family favourite. My weakness is Steak. Some of my customers continually ask me what cut of meat would be best for a particular dish so I have decided to give some pointers on buying Steak and other cuts of Beef.

The number one tip I give customers is that a good butcher will be happy to answer any questions you may have, so ask! They should be knowledgeable about the various grades, cuts, how they should be cooked, and the provenance of the meat – was it reared on organic feed, grass-fed or factory farmed etc? The Grade of meat refers to the age, marbling, colour, and texture of the meat and will also be a determining factor in the price.

“We are what we eat” so another important factor a conscientious consumer might want to take into consideration is how the meat was reared? Know what the labelling means:

  • Grain-Fed: All cattle graze in the pasture for the first part of their lives, but grain-fed stock are then moved to feedlots where they’re fattened up on a concentrated mix of corn, soy, grains, and other supplements, plus hormones and antibiotics to prevent illnesses. Grain-fed cattle yield more tender (fatty) meat, and will usually cost less than organic, natural, and grass-fed, but you have to weigh the pros against all the other things they’ve ingested when choosing what’s right for you, and your family.
  • Natural: Means hormone and anti-biotic free. Much like an athlete who takes hormones to bulk up,  grain-fed cattle are given hormones to bulk them up faster for slaughter. This is done purely to increase the profit. Likewise, antibiotics are given to prevent illness – lessening the risk of having to put a sick cow down (and not be able to sell it). How many times have you heard your doctor say “you shouldn’t take antibiotics unless absolutely necessary, or you might become anti-biotic resistant when you really need them.” Do you really want to ingest them in your meat? There is absolutely no health advantage to you eating these chemicals, and there could quite possibly be health risks to you in the long term.
  • Grass-fed: Cattle graze entirely on grass as they were biologically meant to do. That means it’s better for the cow, and better for the environment. Grass is easier on their digestive system so they don’t emit as much ozone damaging methane gas, and less fuel is used in producing their feed.

 

Cuts of Beef
Finally, understanding the difference between the cuts helps in making your selection too, and this really boils down to personal preference.

Beef for Roasting – Sirloin, fore rib, fillet

Beef for Pot Roasting- Topside, silverside, brisket, thick flank.

Beef for Stewing and Braising – Chuck, shin, brisket, flank, neck, topside, silverside. (These cuts are also suitable for salting and boiling.)

Beef for Pies – Chuck, brisket, thick flank, shin (foreleg), shin or leg (hind leg).

If you want to serve steak you want to avoid all cuts that require a slow-cooking process to tenderize the meat. The most common cuts for steak are:

  • Fillet Mignon comes from the tenderloin, or most tender cut of beef. It also has very little fat, so it is a great option if you are watching your weight.
  • T-Bones & Porterhouse steaks are cut from both the striploin and tenderloin, so it’s like getting best of both worlds
  • Ribeye’s are a big steak house favourite because they have a lot of fat yielding flavour
  • Sirloin is another lower fat option, generally a more cost effective cut of meat with plenty of flavour, but can be on the tough side.

Beef is a great source of protein and iron. Making informed choices will help you decide what is right for you.

Roasted Garlic & Chili Rub

This versatile rub is an outstanding on any kind of beef, chicken, pork or shrimp. I sometimes find garlic already roasted at the store, which does save time, but it is very simple to do – just check out my note below. Any extra can be saved and used up to 5 days covered and refrigerated, but in my household it goes quickly.

Servings: 8

  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes


Ingredients

Roasted Garlic & Chili Rub

  • 1 whole head garlic roasted and squeezed out of its paper like exterior
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons oregano
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup olive oil


Directions

Roasted Garlic & Chili Rub

  1. Squeeze roasted garlic out of it’s skins into a small bowl. Add chili powder, brown sugar, oregano and salt. Slowly add the olive oil, mixing into a paste consistency.

Serving Suggestions
Serve the rubbed and grilled beef, pork, chicken, shrimp or fish with mashed potatoes and simple grilled vegetables.

Heat To Eat
I like to rub my meat, poultry or seafood and store until I am ready to grill and eat; but you could also heat already cooked meats in the microwave on 50% power to heat without cooking further, for 3-5 minutes, turning midway to distribute heat evenly.

Notes
To roast the garlic: Preheat oven to 200°C. Cut a 4-inch square piece of foil and place on a sheet pan. Peel the papery outer layer of a head of garlic off, leaving the skins on. Cut 1/2-inch off of the top of the head of garlic. Place the larger piece of garlic on the square of foil on a sheet pan (save the rest for another use). Drizzle 1 tablespoon olive oil over the top coating well. Wrap the foil loosely around the head of garlic and roast in the preheated oven for 30-35 minutes, or until the garlic is soft and squishy when you squeeze it. Store any excess garlic in an airtight container coating the garlic in olive oil for up to one week.

Randaddys Shortcuts to save you time in the kitchen

For all us busy people, there’s not always a lot of time in the week to cook those tasty meals we all crave. We here at Randaddys have come up with some time-saving tips that are often used in professional kitchens, but can also save you some time at home too.

Multi-task
Chefs don’t stand around waiting for water to boil or the oven to heat up. Have the kettle boiled before you start, have the oven turned on. If you don’t have this done, do some other jobs in the meantime – chop the vegetables, set the table or get the plates organised. That way, as soon as everything’s heated up, you can start cooking straight away and have dinner on the table in less time.

Peeling
Peeling certain vegetables can be fiddly and time-consuming. Slice vegetables and meat thinly for even speedier results in the kitchen.

Choose foods that naturally cook quickly
Fresh noodles and pasta might cost a little more, but if your priority is time, they cook in just a few minutes. Gnocchi only takes around three minutes to boil, so try this when time is tight instead of dried pasta, which can take around 10 minutes. Fish fillets generally cook quicker than meat, and seafood such as prawns and scallops cook even quicker.

Prepare in advance

Prepare as much of your meal as you can, this all saves time when the dinner rush is on. Potatoes can be peeled and chopped for making chips or for roasting – leave them in a bowl of water in the fridge and just drain and pat dry with a clean towel before using. Gravy, stuffing and salads can also be prepared in advance, saving you time later on.

Clear up as you go
Pop vegetable peelings and empty packets in the bin as you go along. Wash any dirty chopping boards etc as you go. You’ll save yourself tidying up time afterwards.

If you have some time while you’re waiting for a lasagne or a stew to cook, for example, start washing up what you’ve used so far, instead of sitting down to watch TV. You’ll have less clearing up to do at the end of the meal and can then sit down and relax.

What are your top tips for speedy cooking during the week? We would love to hear them……..

 

How to cook the perfect battered fish….

This is an ideal dish for your guilt free Friday treat – Enjoy!

The secret of the bubbles – whether you prefer pollock or cod, with the skin on or off, everyone agrees that good batter should be light and crisp, which means getting some air into the mixture. There are two principal methods for doing so: adding a raising agent, such as baking powder or yeast, or making up the batter with a carbonated liquid, such as sparkling water or beer.

Perfect battered fish

Proper fried fish needs little in the way of fancy embellishments. Beer and raising agents, for flavour and volume, and good hot fat are all you need for pure, unadulterated happiness. (Oh, and a piece of fresh fish, of course.)

Serves 4

Dripping or oil, for frying
400g plain flour, put in the freezer for 15 minutes before using
3tsp baking powder
550ml very cold beer
4 pieces of sustainable white fish (I used pollock)

1. Heat the fat in a deep-fat fryer or chip pan to 185C. Whisk the baking powder into the chilled flour, along with ½ tsp salt, and then quickly whisk in the cold beer until you have a thick paste. This needs to be done just before you cook the fish.

2. Position the bowl next to the fryer or pan. Have a plate lined with kitchen paper ready. Dip your fish into the batter and then carefully lower it into the hot fat, and agitate the frying basket to prevent the fish sticking to it. This will also give the batter a more interesting texture. Do this one or two pieces at a time: don’t overcrowd the fryer.

3. Cook the fish for about 4–6 minutes, depending on size, keeping a watchful eye on it; it should be crisp and golden. Lift out of the fat and drain on kitchen paper then serve immediately.

Is battered fish an art best left to the professionals, or can you beat the efforts of your local chippie? Which recipe do you use, and what fish do you honour with it? And can anyone suggest a good recipe for proper mushy peas?

Slow Food Festival Clare

As the slow food festival of Clare approaches in May, one of the many topics on the agenda at the festival is Batch Cooking. Slow cooking is not all about making elaborate 4 hour dishes at home it’s about using raw ingredients to eat healthier.

The basic idea behind batch cooking is to create a double, triple, or even quadruple recipe of a particular meal or dish so that it can be quickly pulled together and served later on.
Cooking in advance has the serious advantage of saving time and money. You’ll waste less food (especially the perishables), and you’ll save money by doubling up your efforts on the spoils brought home from the supermarket. It’s also healthier, because you won’t need to buy convenience foods that are chock full of MSG, preservatives, sodium, and other unpronounceable chemicals.

There are a few methods of batch cooking, but essentially, it involves cooking a lot of food in advance. You can cook enough food to warrant freezing and stockpiling, and you can prepare scratch ingredients, helping you to cook without the fake ingredients found in so many shop-bought items. Some handy ways of storing your concoctions would be in freezer zip lock bags. This would cut down a lot of space.

In my opinion robust comfort foods are my favourite and are like fine wines and need time to do their own thing for fermentation. There’s nothing like a bolognese sauce the next day, there so many different things you can use it for and change it into. Some easy family favourites like bolognese can be made into things such as Lasagne, Chilli con carne, Chilly beef tacos, topping for your baked potato. Cottage pie and on and on……

So fire up your imagination, start changing your diet and cutting down your cooking times and start batch cooking!!!!

Can anyone suggest a good recipe to batch cook? Or if anyone would like a recipe for a nice bolognese just let us know 🙂

See you soon
Randy

A Traditional Christmas

How life changes, eh??? Having a few days R&R has had me thinking…. not something I do a lot of 🙂

Usually I am rushing about and so busy I don’t have much time for reflection… but over the past few days I’ve been thinking about how much my life has changed in recent years, especially when it comes to Christmas traditions.

Growing up in Canada I got used to snow at Christmas…. yes, all that picture postcard stuff that Irish people long for … we had snow every year!  So it was picture perfect.

On Christmas Eve it was all about getting home to my parents house.   The whole extended family would gather at the house, sometimes there could be as many as 60 people gathered around the table, from all corners of the world. As we all know, Canada is very multiculural. Everyone brought their own unique dish to share at dinner on Christmas Eve, but there would always be turkey and ham….. and with such a crowd the chatter and laughter would be something else.

Once dinner was finished, it was time to open presents.

Christmas morning everyone got suited up and we played ice hockey – trying hard not to kill ourselves or each other!!!!  It was a great way to work off all the excesses of the previous evening!  Mind you all that exercise and burning of calories was followed by a few pints and left-overs, so it is questionable that it did us any good at all???? I just loved those turkey sandwiches!  They always tasted wonderful after all that fresh air.

By Boxing Day (St. Stephen’s Day) everything would be kind of back to normal… but if you did have the day off from work, mostly it was all about shopping.

Since getting married to my beautiful Polish wife, Christmas tradition is quite different.  We are both getting used to the fact that we live by the sea in Ireland where the chances of snow are very very slight!!!

Now we celebrate Christmas in the Polish tradition with my wife cooking dinner on Christmas Eve.   I love having others cook for me 🙂  I like the lovely Polish tradition of sitting down to dinner on Christmas Eve as the first star appears – dare I say it, it adds a romantic feel to the evening 🙂

On Christmas morning, we exchange our gifts and take a walk down to the beach in Lahinch with the dogs, to watch the Christmas Day swim….. the key word here is ‘watch’.  I don’t know how those folks do it?  Jumping into freezing cold water!!  Maybe some year I’ll be brave enough to do it!!!  It would make me feel all virtuous then as I sit be the fire for the rest of the afternoon with a glass of wine and watch lots of movies!

And then St. Stephen’s Day….. it’s back to work.

Do you have family Christmas traditions?  How will you be spending Christmas?

However, you will be spending it, we wish you a very very Happy Christmas and a prosperous New Year.

See you soon

Randy

To market, to market…. and a simple Apple and Cinnamon pie recipe

Well this past weekend Randaddy’s attended our first ever market!  I know you probably won’t believe it, but we’ve never done anything like this before!

As it is the ‘off season’ we thought the market would be a great opportunity to get out there and meet people, and promote Randaddy’s…… just in case there are any folks who don’t know about us 🙂

We had no idea what to expect.

So we baked bread.  We made scones and cakes.  We whipped up some red pepper and leek hummus, and off we went to the Burren Christmas Family Fayre

What a great time we had!  Major thanks go to the team for all their help, to Majella and Patrick who worked tirelessly in the kitchen, and to Caitriona who manned the stand and has such a wonderful way with customers.   Thank you too to all you guys who came along and supported us, and gave us some wonderful feedback.  So thrilled that you all liked that Red Pepper and Leek Hummus….. there will be more made!

From a personal perspective, I loved meeting the people, I loved meeting other food producers and seeing just how much industry and activity is in the locality.

I totally enjoyed spreading the word about what we are doing at Randaddy’s and am so looking forward to welcoming new people to the restaurant in the new year.

And having been to one market….. I am off to another!  This time I will be on the other side of the stall though.  I am off to the Christmas Market at Doonbeg Lodge where I am hoping to meet lots of local producers, and maybe get some ideas for 2013.

What’s your favourite local market?  Should we be attending more?

Let us know what you think.

And to get those lovely aromas of Christmas going in the house, here’s a really easy recipe for Apple & Cinnamon pies.

Ingredients:

  • 1 (17 oz/475g) package puff pastry
  • 3 large red baking apples
  • Small handful of walnuts, or chopped almonds or pecans
  • 75 g brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons flour
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 beaten egg

Directions:

  1. Thaw puff pastry according to directions on package.
  2. Peel, core and chop apples up coarsely.
  3. Combine apples with sugar, flour, lemon juice, cinnamon and nuts.
  4. Heat oven to 350°F/180°C = gas mark 4
  5. Flour surface lightly and cut pastry sheet into eight 3 in x 3 in squares.
  6. Divide the chopped apples between 4 pastry squares brush edge with beaten egg.
  7. Place second pastry square on the top of the already filled pastry to form a pocket.
  8. Press down border with fingers to seal and then press with fork to decorate the edges.
  9. Make a 1-inch L shape incision into each pie and fold back the pastry flap.
  10. Place on ungreased cookie sheet and brush each square with some beaten egg.
  11. Bake for approximately 20 minutes or until golden.

Enjoy!

Randy

Randaddys Charity Fundraiser with Midwest Simon Community

In all of our lives we all have ups and downs and some may have more than others. I know in my short life there has been a lot.

My mother, being single & with two kids, our family had to struggle from time to time. We were fortunate enough to have help around us to fall back on. I have always been taught by my mother to give back whenever I had a chance and I have done so through my career.
Myself and the staff at Randaddy’s have been trying to think of a way we and others around us are able to give back to the local community and came up with a Man Vs Spaghetti challenge for the Midwest Simon community.

The Mid West Simon Community assists people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness, in the Mid West counties of Limerick, Clare and North Tipperary.
They are actively developing services in Clare in the areas of advice, advocacy and solutions for people who find themselves under pressure to find deposits for rented accommodation.

Their regional services include:

• Simon Housing- moving people out of homelessness into independent living
• Long term supported accommodation
• Tenancy sustainment
• Outreach Services
• Appropriate tailored support provided by Housing Support Officers.
• Housing Advice & Advocacy Service
• Simon Shop & Coffee Dock
• Service user participation programme
• School and College awareness raising presentations
• Third level student placements
• Part Time Volunteer programme
• Campaigns, advocacy and social policy

We here at Randaddys thought it was the perfect charity that we could link up with and have come up with the Man V’s Spaghetti Competition on August 18th.

We would love everyone to get involved as its for a great cause.

For more information or to sign up just log onto our website here

See you all at Randaddys on August 18th for this great cause!

Have fun

Randy

Mussels For Home

Hi to all

Here is a mussel recipe to follow up my video from earlier this week that will work great at home for you to try.
(If you haven’t seen it, click here!


Ingredients

  • 24 fresh, small to medium-sized mussels
  • 3 tablespoons  100% Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • ½ lemon to squezze over
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • Hand full of fresh fennel herb

Directions

Place mussels with herbs in large skillet without water. Cover and cook over medium heat, removing the mussels to a warm platter as they open. Discard any that do not open.

Reduce liquid in the skillet to about 2 or 3 tablespoons. Return mussels to skillet. Sprinkle with olive oil, lemon juice and garlic. Heat for 1 minute.

Serve immediately with crusty bread for dunking.

Enjoy
Randy

Food Festivals of Ireland 2012

With the seasons changing and summer time approaching, many of us start to plan our holidays for the year to come.  This year we all know about the 2012 Olympics being held in London.   I think it’s a great time for Ireland to showcase what’s across the pond from London, where  I am proud to say there are many things to see and do around Ireland.

There is the great Cliffs of Moher, the many pristine golf links & courses, the Volvo Ocean Race in Galway and so many other things to suit everyone’s taste.

One of mine & my wife’s favourites is the food and drink festivals in Ireland. There’s just something about touring the old streets, the sensations of the site, the taste and smell, is believing all of what Irish and world hospitality is all about.

I reflect on my own tastes and experiences from around the world and start to prepare the seasonal menus at Randaddy’s Cafe & Restaurant in Lahinch, Co. Clare. This is the most exciting part of my job when the team and I get to try some of the lovely recipes we have been thinking about all winter.  Over the next few days we will be testing new ideas so feel free to send in some of you own delights to info@randaddys.ie that you would like to see on the menu. Maybe the next time you come in, you will have a dish named after you that you can try.

For more information on where these  treats of Ireland are taking place click here

Have fun
Randy

Food For Thought

This week Randaddys is celebrating its 1st birthday. In this past year we have found ourselves in many challenging positions as a new small business and I am sure there will be many more over the years to come.

Our latest challenge is the HSE and more importantly Dr. James Reilly T.D. & Minister for Health. The Minister wants to put calories on menus in cafés, restaurants and fast food outlets. We at Randaddys are very discouraged as we are always striving to give the freshest, homemade, quality food with no additives or preservatives.

At Randaddys we pride ourselves on home-made, quality food with low prices. What should be the objective is the fight against obesity and how we feed ourselves and our loved ones. It has been a big wakeup call over the past year as I see many families looking for the unhealthy option to feed themselves and their family.

I feel that the problem is in the way we cook and choose our foods such as deep fried, candy snacks, premade and packaged, modified starches, canned sauces, breads that sit on our shelves and are still good after 5 days; restaurants, pubs, and cafes that rely on bought in pre-fabricated frozen food and say that it can’t be done any other way because of the present economic climate.

The most important aspect we should be considering is the culinary education of our children in the education system and culinary schools across the country that are misleading young chefs on the way eateries should be ran and some hotels that practice bad cooking techniques that we call home food.

Well I think we all need to take a reality check on how we live our lives and the choices we make in our diets. We all have a choice on what we eat and don’t eat. Will it be deep fried sausage and chips or oven baked? Fresh scampi or frozen breaded scampi with modified starches? Bought in curry powder just add water or make your own. I think we all need to have higher standards on what we call food when we are eating out and so do we, the people in the world in culinary arts, about what is right and wrong when it comes to the preparation of food.

My challenge to you is to start voicing your own opinion of this and send us a message below on what you think Mr. James Reilly T.D. & Minister for Health is proposing. It has only been 45 days since the FSAI published their Press Release and the opinion polls have already been closed. If that’s not a stealth bill I don’t know what is….
Please write and let me know how you feel and I encourage you to share it with the Minister himself….

Randy