Introducing… the Product Agency

I’ve had a pretty amazing journey in digital.

When I was 13, I ran an unsuccessful BBS (Bulletin Board Service). When I was 15, I learnt Photoshop and Pagemaker and started an underground newspaper at school.

At 16, I started a website and built many many more from there.

I ran a successful and rather large digital agency for 18 years.

And after that, I headed up (digital) “product” at one of Australia’s largest media businesses.

I have never been that fascinated by digital businesses however.

Freelancer. Canva. Amazon.

Sure, they’re amazing, though they don’t struggle with digital.

Instead, as someone who has spent years and years working for clients building apps and websites and emails, I have been fascinated by traditional businesses and how they have embraced it all.

By all accounts, not terribly well.

So, whilst cooking is my passion at home, building digital products at work is my other passion.

Which is why I am back agency side… with a new agency, The Product Agency.

A new model, a new approach to helping clients – traditional businesses – to migrate from digital to product and to genuinely and sustainably achieve product success. To successfully build successful product.

The wine and food wont stop, though that’s the fun of it right!

Beef and eggplant moussaka

Serves: 6

Based on a recent cooking show Nat and I watched, I gather that moussaka is regarded as a bit ho-hum in the UK.

Just like Pad Thai is for us in Australia.

In Australia however, Greek food isn’t a mainstream staple and moussaka isn’t something you pick up from the corner store. Greek food is a treat.

The Ashes family introduced me to moussaka. It is one of their staples and they take it seriously.

To satisfy the breadth of palates in the family, the last time I did this en masse (there were eight of us eating), I did a turkey mince and beef mince number. Genuinely, the turkey mince was the slightly more interesting of the two, though either way, you cannot go wrong.

Live the good life, plan to go for a run tomorrow and find a bottle of red to open.

And cook this.

Ingredients

2 large (1kg) eggplants
Sea salt
½ cup olive oil
2 tablespoons olive oil, extra
1 large onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1 kg minced beef
1 x 400gm can tomatoes
½ cup tomato paste
¼ cup white wine
2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
2 tbsp chopped fresh mint
2 tbsp chopped pine nuts, toasted
2 tbsp sambal oelek
¼ tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp cayenne pepper
2 tsp ground hot paprika
1 tsp ground cumin
¼  cup grated parmesan cheese

Cheese sauce

100g, butter
½ cup plain flour
3 cups milk
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese

Method

  1. Cut eggplants into 5mm slices, place on wire rack, sprinkle with salt, stand 20 minutes. Rinse slices under cold water, drain, pat dry with absorbent paper. Brush slices with oil, add to pan in batches, cook until browned on both sides; drain on paper towel.
  2. Heat extra oil in the same pan, add onion and garlic, cook, stirring, until onion is soft. Add beef, cook, stirring, until beef is browned. Stir in undrained crushed tomatoes, paste, wine, herbs, nuts, sambal oelek and spices, simmer, covered, about 25 minutes or until slightly thickened.
  3. Cheese sauce: Melt butter in pan, stir in flour, stir over heat until bubbling. Remove from heat, gradually stir in milk, stir over heat until mixture boils and thickens. Remove from heat, stir in cheese; cool 5 minutes.
  4. Place one-third of the eggplant over base of a greased shallow ovenproof dish, top with half the beef mixture. Repeat layering with remaining eggplant and beef mixture, ending with eggplant. Spread cheese sauce over eggplant; sprinkle with cheese. Bake, uncovered, at 180°C for about 45 minutes or until lightly browned.

Beef Bourguigonne Pie

Beef Bourguigonne Pie

Serves: 6

Sit down for this one.

For whilst it isn’t a quick production, it is simply off the charts in terms of everything else.

Seriously.

It is so decadent, so rich, so crazy good, you might only do it once though it will have been worth it.

If I tried to add it to this website’s Healthy category, I suspect the website would have overheated.

Though screw it

You’re doing this one and what a way to sign off the week!

Ingredients

3 tbsp olive oil
½ cup plus 1 tbsp flour
750gm boneless beef chuck, cut into 3cm pieces
3 slices bacon cut into 1cm pieces
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 medium leek, white and pale green parts only, halved and thinly sliced
1 medium carrot, peeled and finely chopped
½ cup flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
2 tbsp brandy or bourbon
4 sprigs thyme, leaves stripped
1 bay leaf
1 star anise pod
2 cups, chicken stock
1 cup red wine
5 tbsp unsalted butter
250gm (button) mushrooms, finely sliced
250gm pearl onions (we used quartered red onions)
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
6 – 8 sheets frozen puff pastry
1 large egg, beaten

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 200c.
  2. Heat oil in a large heavy pot over a medium-high heat. Season ½ cup of flour with salt and pepper, add the beef and toss to coat, shaking off the excess.
  3. Working in batches, cook the beef until browned all over: 8 – 10 minutes per batch. Transfer to a plate.
  4. Cook the bacon in the same pot, stirring often until browned and crisp. Add ¼ cup water and cook, scraping up the brown bits. Add the onion, carrot and leek, stirring until they start to soften: 5 minutes or so. Stir in the garlic and parsley and return the beef to the pot. Add the brandy and simmer until the liquid has almost completely evaporated.
  5. Add the thyme leaves, bay leaf, star anise, chicken stock and wine, season with salt and pepper and bring to the simmer.
  6. Mix 1 tbsp flour and 1 tbsp butter in a small bowl until smooth; stir into the meat mixture. Cover pot and braise in the oven until the beef is very tender: 1 – 1 ½ hours.
  7. Have a beer or a cold glass of white. You’re halfway there at least.
  8. Melt remaining 4 tbsp butter in a large pan over a medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms and pearl onions and cook, stirring until browned: 8 – 10 minutes. Stir in lemon juice and season with salt and pepper.
  9. Add the the mushrooms and onions to the beef stew, cover pot and return to the oven. Cook until the onions are very tender: 25 – 30 minutes. Remove the stew from the oven and allow to cool.
  10. Grease a large casserole/pie dish. Cover the insides with pastry to create a base, allowing for overhang to support the top of the pie. Fill with the stew. Drap pastry over the filling and complete the pie. Brush with the egg.
  11. Bake until the crust is deep golden brown: 30 – 35 minutes.

Mulled Wine

Serves: 4

A simple question to ask a prospective friend: “Mulled wine?”

Because if the answer is ‘yes’, you have a friend.

Because mulled wine is also your friend.

It’s the acceptance that wine is great though worthy of a reboot from time to time. That wine isn’t the end-point and really just part of the heavy-lifting.

It’s winter and we are all bored.

Get the music cranking, mix up a batch of this wine and toast the best part of winter.

Nat and I did.

Ingredients

10 cloves
2 cinnamon sticks
¼ cup caster sugar
1 roughly grated nutmeg
2 cups water
Roughly grated rind of 1 orange
1 apple, roughly chopped, skin on
750ml (1 bottle) fruity red wine such as merlot

Method

  1. Don’t drink the wine yet.
  2. Heat cloves, cinnamon, sugar, nutmeg, water, orange rind and apple in a large saucepan over a medium heat. Bring to the boil then reduce to a simmer for 10 minutes.
  3. Add red wine and simmer for another 5 minutes. Strain and serve.
  4. Again and again and again.