Don’t get me wrong, I love living in the Lady Pad. I’m close to the city, the bay, an excellent choice of cafes from which to purchase my standard strong flat white, work … scrap that one actually … that’s not always great (although the commute is pretty sweet). Sitting in my living room right now, with low-lighting, a gentle, cool breeze sweeping through the apartment and clearing away the warm air of the past few days, and my line-up of Thursday night cooking shows on TV, I’m a happy camper. It would be perfect, if not for the constant party that seems to be taking place in the apartment behind mine.
Now, I love a good party. And I’ll make it clear that I’m no prude either. If a series of not completely offensive-looking young hipsters wish to parade around their deck within direct sight of my kitchen window, half- naked, who am I to stop them?
What really offends me is their damned barbecue. And their ritualistic and, some might say, barbaric, grilling of raw flesh on said barbecue. Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday and sometimes Monday night barbecuing ceremonies that make my nose twitch and eyes water. Because I don’t have one. A barbecue. I might shamefully add the small fact that I become a veritable Mrs Mangel (for anyone who watched Neighbours in the 80s … please don’t leave me hanging alone with that reference) and spy all too carefully through the cracks of my Venetian blinds when they’re parading their skin and carnivorous ways around le Alter de Barbecue for all neighbours within a three-metre radius to behold from their balconies. It’s just plain mean. To their defense, just a little, I have been invited on more than one occasion to their celebrations of all things fleshy. I’ve graciously declined thus far. I much prefer to observe from above than to actually join them and kill the mystique. Before you judge harshly, I might add that on many an occasion I’ve been joined at my kitchen window by others for some good ol’ healthy Mrs Mangeling.
Tonight, on this balmy, yet pleasant Melbourne evening, I wanted my own barbecue feast, despite the fact that I am sans barbecue. Yeah, I know … this means char-grilling meat on the stove top and baking vegetables in the oven. But let me tell you, while I basted my lovely piece of porterhouse as it hissed and smoked and grilled its way to perfection, I noticed some movement down on the Deck of Flesh. As discreetly as I could manage, I turned my head ever so slightly and noticed one of the half-naked hairy hipster men looking up into my kitchen, nostrils flared, with a look of admiration and desperation crossing his face. I had succeeded in creating the best darn barbecue the Lady Pad could offer, without a stupid barbecue.
Ingredients (pour uno):
1 x 150 g piece porterhouse steak (or scotch fillet/rib eye)
extra virgin olive oil
half a sweet potato
half a red capsicum
bunch mini asparagus (full-length asparagus is fine!)
half a red onion
feta (I had some leftover marinated Persian feta)
fresh oregano, thyme or parsley (or all of them!)
sea salt and black pepper
Preheat your oven to . Cut the vegetables into rough chunks, except the asparagus which should be left whole. I leave the skin on the sweet potato to keep the veggies nice and rustic. If you have any bits of eggplant, zucchini or other vegetables you would like to get rid of, throw them in. Be sure to salt and then rinse the eggplant to draw out the bitterness before cooking. Wash the vegetables and pat dry, then arrange in a baking tray. Be sure not to overcrowd the tray so that each little veggie has a chance to blacken a little. Drizzle the veggies with just a little olive oil, so that they become nice and crispy and not soggy mush, then season well. You might also wish to add heartier herbs, such as oregano, at this point. Place in the hot oven for about 30 minutes, or until cooked and crispy and slightly blackened. The capsicum should give this away with nicely blackened edges. Turn the oven off but keep the veggies in to stay warm until the steak is cooked. Do not cover, or else sogginess shall ensue.
Prep the steak by rubbing with olive oil and seasoning, on both sides and around the edges. Heat a medium-sized frying or griddle pan and add the steak. Ensure the heat is medium to high. For medium, I cook porterhouse for about 5 minutes, turning repeatedly after a minute on each side. The beef is medium when it is still springy, but not overly malleable. Set aside to rest on a board for about a minute when cooked to your liking.
Pull the vegetables out of the oven and then scatter with as much feta and parsley as you like. Use a spatula to transfer them to your plate. Arrange your ‘barbecued’ wonder on the plate, inhale the relatively non-carcinogenic fumes of charcoal-y goodness, and eat … heartily and perhaps like me, from beyond the Venetians and in full view of your own heathen neighbours.