Due to real life being both difficult and hectic at the moment, I am guilty of neglecting my blog at the minute so I apologise for that now.
Hectic and difficult mean only one thing for me, slow cooked comfort food and what better than beef stew? Beef stew made from ox cheek in lots of red wine!
2 Beef cheeks
1 bottle of red wine
3 garlic cloves
Handful of sliced mushrooms
First of all marinade the cheeks in 300ml of the red wine with chopped garlic cloves, if you have any thyme this would also be a good addition as is a healthy dose of cracked black pepper. I left mine overnight but anything from an hour upwards will be fine.
Dice your carrots and finely slice the onion and then fry of in a little butter or oil until softened, then add the bacon and mushroom. At this point you can fry the cheeks to brown them but I never find this a vital step. Add the meat and marinade and bring to the boil, stir well, add the tin of tomatoes and enough wine to cover and then cook on a low heat for 6-8 hours. You can probably use a slow cooker but I cook mine in a stock pot on top of the woodburner. In the end it cooked for 10 hours but as it is not a fierce heat that was fine, alternatively you can cook for 3-4 hours on a low gas in the oven but you will need to check it doesn’t dry out.
Serve with creamy mash. Fairly quick to prepare, the slow cooking takes out all the headache and you end up with a meltingly tender mouthful of gorgeousness. If you are frightened of cooking beef cheeks, there really is no need, they make the richest stew and all they really need is a lot of time. The fat adds to the flavour but if they are very fatty you can ask your butcher to trim, or do it yourself at home.
We needed comfort food that used up some mince, I didn’t fancy burgers or meatballs. Bolognese is always a winner but for a change I decided to do something along the lines of the Other Half’s mother’s mince and macaroni.
Bolognese is something the Other Half usually does, not least of all as his tastes a lot better than mine. Probably because I do things like forget to put in garlic and herbs whilst I’m running round the kitchen not looking at a recipe. Tonight’s was OK and, due to the macaroni in cheese sauce on top, tasted more like lasagne than our normal bolognese. He had two helpings and the child had three so it certainly seems like a dish that went down well.
Leek, finely sliced
Worcestershire sauce, dash
Soy sauce, dash
50ml red wine
Tbsp plain flour
1 pint milk
Fry onion, leek and carrot until softened, if you don’t forget to include garlic then add a chopped clove or two at this point. Dry mixed herbs are also a good addition or add fresh basil at the end. Add the mince and stir until browned. Stir in the wine and sauces until bubbling then add the tinned tomatoes and soup. Bring to the boil and then simmer. Normally I would simmer for 20 minutes covered and 10 uncovered but we went to visit friends so it got abandoned on the woodburner for an hour or so instead.
Whilst the bolognese is bubbling away, cook the macaroni, drain and place to one side. As I don’t like washing up, I rinsed the pan and then used it for a cheese sauce. Melt the butter, whisk in flour, cook off for a minute then whisk in milk slowly until all incorporated. Let this heat up for 5 minutes or so (without boiling) and then stir in half the cheese. Cook off for another few minutes before stirring in the pasta.
I used an enamel pot so I could transfer straight from hob to oven which I meant I could pile the pasta straight on top of the sauce, otherwise empty the bolognese into an oven dish, top with pasta. Either way, add extra cheese before putting in a pre warmed oven on roughly Gas Mark 6 for 30 minutes.
The great thing about cold weather is slow cooked, homely food. As the Other Half’s parents were cooking on Sunday evening, I decided to use the weekend to make something with slow cooked beef. Originally I had planned on doing boeuf bourguignon but that somehow changed to beef goulash.
I don’t have a slow cooker but I do have a cast iron pot and a wood burner so I duly lit the fire, started cooking and then left the goulash to do its stuff for about 6 hours, stirring occasionally when I hurled an extra log on the fire. The house smelt amazing and was nicely warm, despite the inclement weather outside.
2 onion, sliced
2 peppers, one orange, one yellow, finely sliced
3 cloves of garlic, finely sliced or minced
500g diced beef
1 tbsp paprika
1 tbsp. tomato puree
400g tin of tomatoes
Beef stock cube
1 tub sour cream or crème fraiche
First of all fry the onion and peppers gently in some oil for about 10 minutes until softened then add the garlic and stir.
Add the beef and continue stirring until the meat is browned before mixing in the paprika, making sure everything is coated. Add the tomatoes and rinse the tin with a little hot water, stir in the water and a crumbled stock cube, then squeeze in the tomato puree. Bring to the boil, then cover and either cook on a low heat for 2 hours or slow cook for 6 hours.
Before serving, add the sour cream and mix well. We had the Goulash with mashed potato but you could serve with rice or spatzle.
Occasionally I look after a friend’s children. I wouldn’t say they are fussy but I’m used to my small person who eats everything – except tuna and avocado but I can live with that.
After a long weekend (car stuff which I will write up soon) and a full day at work, tonight had to be quick, easy but filling. Enter sausages and tomato sauce with pasta. Even better enter my 10 year old commis chef. I didn’t dare let him near the mandolin but, with supervision, I let him prepare the tomato sauce. Very simple, oil in pan, add sliced onions, when softened add some wine and then the tomatoes. I often slip some syrup, honey or sugar into a tomato sauce but tonight was the bare basics. My mini chef certainly enjoyed helping and this is something I will continue to encourage. His favorite job so far has been rolling pasta, something we will repeat soon. The more he and his sister help, the more willing they are to try different flavours and dishes.
The meal was completed by boiling pasta and frying the sausages. Combine, sprinkle with cheese and enjoy. Normally I’d add more vegetables into the sauce but today was about getting a filling meal into them more than covert nutrition. I’ll save that for Friday when they come over next!
Once upon a time (otherwise known as last year) I bought Sri Lankan Chicken Soup in the local Tesco. It was nice if a little salty and I decided I could probably do something just as nice myself. An internet search turned up this recipe.
So I tried it, or at least my version of it. And it was good.
A whole ready roasted chicken (you will have some spare)
1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, finely sliced
1 tbsp ground coriander
1 tbsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground cinnamon
2 (or more) cloves of garlic
400g tin of chopped tomatoes
1 potato (not too large), diced
Juice of 1 lime
1 tsp brown sugar
400g tin of coconut milk
1 tbsp tomato puree
First of all, strip the meat from the ready cooked chicken and shred finely. You can cook it yourself but one of the joys of this soup is that it is not labour intensive so the ready cooked chicken is less hassle.
Once stripped, fry the onion in the oil until soft. Then add the spices and garlic, sauté for at least one minute. Pour in half the coconut milk, all the tomatoes (rinse the tin with water and add this too), the potato, sugar and half the lime juice – I’m really not sure why you don’t add all the lime juice at this stage but I guess adding the rest later keeps a fresher taste.
Simmer for 20 minutes (as you may have gathered from previous posts, this is the point I either select or pour my wine!) Then add the rest of the lime juice, coconut milk and the tomato puree. Once it’s all mixed together, blend until smooth.
If you are eating straight away, add the chicken and wait until it is all heated through. If, like me, you pot up several portions for work lunches, wait until the sauce had cooked and then mix in the chicken.
The only soup I make that is even easier and quicker is pea and pancetta, yet again that is another post for another time.