Category Archives: beef

Oxtail casserole (Serves: 4 – Preparation time: 3.5hrs)

As the dark evenings draw in and the temperature starts to drop off rich stews and casseroles come into their own.  The recipe below is a fine example of cooking ‘low and slow’ which results in the meat becoming mouth-wateringly tender and falls off the bone.

Whilst I was in France a couple of weeks ago with some of my school friends, a debate started over what is the difference between a stew and a casserole.  After a lengthy discussion and a bit of googling we learnt that stewing is done on the top of a cooker with heat being applied directly to the underneath of the pot; while casseroling takes place inside the oven with heat circulating all around the pot. In both cases the meat is cut up fairly small and cooked in a liquid (stock, wine, water, cider, etc).  So it transpires that I have been using the terminology wrongly for many years – whoops.

The recipe below is for oxtail casserole which uses Guinness as a substitute for tomatoes and stock on the basis that it has a lovely earthy and almost bitter flavour which combined with the red currant jelly becomes beautifully mellow.  Whilst I cooked this in a cast iron casserole dish this recipe would work really well in a slow cooker, however make sure that you cook it on a low setting for around 6-7 hours.

For presentation purposes I took the oxtail off the bone and served in a roasted squash, which looked lovely.  However I have a confession to make, after decanting the casserole into the squash is dawned on me that whilst pretty it was highly impractical, so I ended up tipping it back into the pot before serving and it saved me from one heck of a mess. In hindsight I should have served the oxtail on the bone (2 per person is about right) with wedges of roasted squash and green vegetables on the side.  As they say “you live and learn”…  Enjoy!

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Sticky beef (Serves: 2/3 – Preparation time: 20 minutes)

Lately I have been finding that I am pushed for time in the evenings,  as a result I have been resorting to meals that can be prepped and on the table in 20 minutes without too much fuss.  The recipe below fits the bill perfectly as in the time that it takes to steam the rice the rest of the dish can be cooked.

This ‘sticky beef’ recipe uses dates to make sauce, giving it a wonderfully sweet caramelised flavour.  The spice and warmth from the chilli helps cut through the sweetness of the dish, however if you find it too sugary for your palette then add 1 tbsp of light soy sauce to the dish at the end.

By stir-frying the vegetables quickly they will retain a slight crunch which contrasts the smoothness of the sauce and tenderness steak.  Don’t feel that you have to use beef to make this recipe, it would work just as well with pork or chicken thighs cut into thin strips and cooked in a little oil before adding it to the sauce.  Enjoy!


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Mushroom and ale risotto served in a roasted red pepper with rare steak strips (Serves: 4 – Preparation time: 1 hr)

I would describe the recipe below as quite manly as the ingredients that are used are hearty and somewhat earthy.   However I don’t think risotto is often associated as being a masculine meal but I hope that the chaps trying this recipe will be pleasantly surprised by this little number.  If you are looking for a recipe for date night then I would recommend giving this recipe a go.

For those of you that have not made a risotto before the most important thing to remember is not to rush.  A risotto works best when you cook it on a low heat adding the stock a little at a time allowing the rice to absorb the liquid before adding more.  It is important that whilst doing this you stir it regularly to prevent it from sticking to the bottom of the pan.  Provided that you take your time you will end up with a beautifully creamy risotto – so make sure when you are cooking a risotto that you give yourself at least 20-30 minutes to make it!

The other thing I would say for those of you that are put off by this recipe because there are too many elements don’t be as there really are only 6 steps.  Here is the breakdown of what you need to do:

  1. Wash and put the red peppers in the oven – no need to remove the core and seeds at this point.
  2. Whilst the peppers are cooking prepare your risotto.  Once it is cooked – cover and leave to one side whilst you cook the steak and green vegetables.
  3. Boil or steam green vegetables.
  4. Heat frying pan and cook the steak.
  5. Whilst the steak is resting and the vegetables are draining the vegetables – core and seed the peppers.
  6. Cut the steak into strip and plate up.

It really is that straightforward I promise.  The only downside to this recipe is that there is a lot of washing up – sorry about that…

My final comment is that I tend to find the more charred the peppers the better the flavour, so don’t worry if the skin on the peppers is black – that is what you are aiming for.  Enjoy!

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Chilli beef

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Is it wrong that I wish the weather at the moment was a little colder?  With the clocks having gone back almost a month ago I feel somewhat cheated that the weather hasn’t turned and started to get cooler.  London is decidedly grey at the moment giving the sense that winter is on its way but yet it is still warm outside which is mildly disconcerting.  I can’t wait until we start getting the frosty mornings with the brilliant clear blue skies that justify you making comfort food.

Perhaps it was wishful thinking when I got the stewing beef out of the freezer at the weekend with the view to making something both hearty and warming.  Well the balmy weather has certainly not deterred my plans for the stewing beef and last night I made Chilli Beef.  I suppose in reality Chilli Beef is really a play on Chilli Con Carne but in a stew format.  The combination of the spices and the tomatoes in this recipe create a wonderfully rich sauce.  For me though it is the smoked paprika in this recipe that makes this Chilli Beef something special as it adds a real depth of flavour that makes you want to go back for seconds.

This recipe can be made in advance and reheated when you need it which makes it a good option for when you have friends coming around for supper during the week.  I would recommend serving the Chilli Beef with something simple like boiled rice and a green vegetable of your choice.  Bon appétit!

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Chilli Beef

Ingredients:

400 g stewing beef
salt and pepper
2 onions sliced finely
3 garlic cloves roughly chopped
1 heaped tbsp plain flour
1 tbsp smoked paprika
1 tbsp paprika
1 tsp cayenne pepper
½ tsp cumin
¼ tsp ground coriander
½ tsp thyme
1 tsp hot chilli powder
1 beef stock cube
Water to deglaze the pan
½ a fresh chilli chopped finely
1 tin of tomatoes
2 tbsp tomato purée
1 to 2 tbsp of honey to sweeten
1 tin of kidney beans (400g)

Steps:

  1. Preheat your oven to 180°C (Fan)
  1. Mix all the dry ingredients together in a bowl, add the beef to the mixture and stir until the beef is well coated.
  1. Heat some oil in a heavy bottomed pan on a high heat. Add the beef and any remaining dry mix to the pan stirring from time to time until the beef has browned off.
  1. Turn the heat down and add the onions and garlic to the pan. Continue to cook until the onions have softened stirring as required.
  2. Whilst the onions are cooking, dissolve the beef stock cube in a little boiling water and use the liquid to deglaze the pan. It is best to use a wooden spoon to do this so that you do not scratch the bottom of your pan.
  1. Next add the tomatoes, fresh chilli, tomato purée and honey to the pan and stir well.
  1. Cover the pan with the lid and place in the oven and cook for 40 minutes before adding the kidney beans. Return the pan to the oven and cook for a further 1hr 20mins.

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Thai beef salad

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Last year I bought a couple of new “toys” for my kitchen, namely, a food processor and a slow cooker and they have been invaluable!  I mentioned in my last blog that I have been throwing a number of dinner parties recently and half of the meals that I have been making really would not have been possible if I did not have these two appliances for a mid-week dinner party.

I use my slow cooked to make all manner of things, ranging from pulled pork, rice pudding, tagine, curry and stews.  I suspect you are thinking that these are really winter dishes and to an extent you are right, but there really are some lovely summer dishes that you can make in your slow cooker, for example this Thai Beef Salad.

I use my food processor to make anything from, hummus, cakes, pastry, coleslaw, focaccia to mackerel pate.  Yes I admit it is a pain to wash up but it saves me masses of time in terms of preparation.   If you can afford to get one and have space in your kitchen to it is a worthwhile investment!

I am a huge fan of Vietnamese and Thai food and their fresh and fragrant flavours.  This salad is a flavour explosion and has so many things going on at any one time ranging from sharp, spicy and sweet, to tangy, smoky and cool.

The key to this meal is in the preparation and forward planning, I cook the meat overnight, so that it may cool whilst I am at work during the day. The dressing can be made in advance as it will keep over several days and will just need to be shaken up just before serving. Then it is simply a case of preparing the salads, which if you can use a food processor really takes no time at all.

It may look like a lot of effort to make this salad, however, I cannot recommend it enough.

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Thai beef salad (serves 8-10)

Ingredients:

  • 650 – 750g beef brisket (cut into 1” chunks and any sinew and fat removed)
  • 500-750g thin fresh rice noodles

Beef marinade:

  • 2″ ginger (peeled and grated)
  • 1 chilli (finely sliced)
  • 150ml light soy sauce
  • 5tbsp honey
  • 3 cloves garlic (finely chopped)
  • 1tbsp hot sauce (or sweet chilli sauce)

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  • 4 carrots (peeled and finely sliced)
  • 8 large radishes (finely sliced)
  • 1 cucumber (peeled, halved and de-seeded, then cut into slices)
  • 2 large mangoes (peeled, de-stoned and cut into bite-sized pieces)
  • 5/6 spring onions (roughly chopped)
  • 1 large handful sugar snap peas (roughly chopped)
  • 1 sweet red pepper (sliced)
  • 1 handful mint (roughly chopped)
  • 2 handfuls coriander (roughly chopped)
  • 1 small bunch chives (roughly chopped)
  • 2 limes (cut in wedges)

Green Salad

  • 1 Romaine lettuce (roughly sliced)
  • 2 bags mixed salad/stir fry leaves (ideally a combination spinach, kale and pak choi)

Dressing:IMG_3664

  • 5/6 tbsp Hoisin sauce
  • 2/3 tbsp peanut butter
  • 3 limes (juice)
  • 1″ ginger (peeled and grated)
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1tbsp hot sauce (or sweet chilli if you prefer)
  • 2/3 tbsp olive oil

Serve with:

  • Chilli (finely sliced)
  • Peanuts (roughly crushed in a pestle and mortar)
  • Prawn crackers

Steps:

Stage 1 – Slow cook beef

  1. Place the beef and all the ingredients for the marinade into a slow cooker.
  2. Put the slow cooker on a low setting and cook for around 6-10 hours stirring occasionally. You will know that the beef is ready when it is slightly caramelised and falls apart when you use two forks to shred it.
  3. When you are happy that the beef is cooked, remove from the slow cooker and place in a bowl, drizzle over some more honey and soy sauce (roughly 3tbsp of each) stir thoroughly and leave to cool completely.

Stage 2 – Salads

  1. Prepare the salads if you have a food processor use it to slice all of the vegetables finely.
  2. In a large bowl combine the, carrots, radishes, cucumber, sugar snap peas, mango, sweet red pepper, mint, chives and coriander. Garnish with the lime wedges.
  3. In another bowl mix together the green salad of the Romaine Lettuce and the mixed leaves.

Stage 3 – Dressing

  1. In a large jam jar shake together the dressing ingredients until they are completely combined.
  2. Add more soy sauce, Hoisin sauce or lime juice as required according to your own tastes.

Stage 4 – Noodles

  1. Just before you are ready to serve, shred the beef with two forks.
  2. Heat some oil in a large pan, then flash fry the noodles adding the beef to warm slightly in the last two minutes

Stage 5 – Serving

  1. To serve place some of the green salad on a plate.
  2. Add a spoonful or two of the mixed salad.
  3. Top with some of the beef noodles.
  4. Pour over a little dressing and add the chilli and peanuts according to your own tastes.
  5. Serve with some prawn crackers.

Chilli beef burgers

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A few years ago I dropped in on Jones and her parents in Shropshire and I was treated to Papa Jones’ chilli beef burgers and they were pretty special.  Last week I thought I would see if I could recreate them, given that we had an abundance of burger buns in the freezer.

Making burgers is incredibly straight forward and can be made and cooked within 15 minutes, so a perfect option if you are looking for a simple supper.  You can ‘jazz up’ your burger by adding Stilton and tomato relish which is my preference, or you could go for a combination of, cheese slices, fresh tomato, bacon, mustard, lettuce, etc. The options are endless…

With BBQ season coming up quick and fast these burgers are a great option and can be made up well in advance and will keep in the fridge if covered in cling film for a couple of days.   This is definitely a recipe to try.  Enjoy!

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Chili Beef Burgers (makes 6)

Ingredients :

  • 400g minced beef
  • ½ red onion (diced)
  • 2 garlic cloves (diced)
  • 1 birds eye chilli (finely chopped)
  • 1 tbsp sweet chilli sauce
  • 1 tsp fresh thyme
  • 1 tsp mixed herbs
  • 1 egg
  • seasoning

Steps :

  1. Place all the ingredients in a bowl and mix together well (it is much better done with your hands).
  2. Shape the mixture into 6 equal sized balls.
  3. Heat a little oil in a heavy based frying pan.  Place the meat balls in the pan, using either your hand or a spatula to flatten out your burgers, till they are roughly ¾ of an inch thick.
  4. Cook your burgers for roughly 3-5 minutes on each side.
  5. Serve, in a burger bun with a side salad.

Tip:  If you are going to serve your burger with cheese, just before removing the burger from the pan place the cheese on top of your burgers so that it melts slightly.

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Beef pho

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 Whilst “pho” is a Vietnamese dish I think I first discovered my love for it in Hong Kong.  I used to spend hours perusing the Time Out website looking for the best restaurants to go.  I came across an absolutely brilliant tiny little restaurant in Wan Chi that was known for its spicy beef pho and it certainly lived up to its reputation as it was absolutely delicious and I went back there many times during my 6 months.  Ever since I tasted that pho have been trying to recreate the dish and have come up with a recipe that I am very happy with it is slightly less spicy  and is extraordinarily simple to make!

For those of you who don’t know what a pho is, it is a fresh and fragrant noodle soup which can be spiced up to suit your palate.  Recently I have been cheating when I have been making this dish after work, buying a box of prepared stir fry vegetables.  However, yesterday I managed to make it to Shepherd’s Bush Market and was able to buy a whole host of fresh vegetables which I sliced up and threw into the mix and it was absolutely delicious.

As I mentioned before the dish is incredibly straightforward and can be made for large numbers of people with no hassle whatsoever.  I enjoy this meal all year round and at the moment am eating at least once or twice a week varying it by changing the meat or fish I put into it.  My preference is to make the pho with beef as you throw it in raw just before serving and it cooks in the broth.  If you are making the pho with prawns then you should at them at the same time as the noodles.  Alternatively if you are adding chicken, slice it finely and add it to the saucepan at the very beginning.

So if you are looking for something that is fresh, easy and packed full of vegetables then this is definitely something that you should give a try!

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Beef Pho (Serves 2 people)

Ingredients:

  • 150-200g of beef steak (finely sliced and any sinew and fat removed)
  • 1tsp thai green curry paste
  • 2tbsp dark soy sauce
  • 1-2tsp honey
  • 1” ginger (finely sliced)
  • 2-3 garlic cloves (finely chopped)
  • fresh chilli (quantity will vary depending on how spicy you like your food)
  • ½ a red onion (finely sliced)
  • handful mange tout
  • 1 large carrot (peeled and finely sliced)
  • ½ red pepper (finely sliced)
  • 7-8 pak choi leaves (sliced)
  • 75-100g vermicelli noodles
  • 1pt- 1 ½pts good quality chicken stock
  • juice of 1 lime
  • handful of freshly chopped coriander
  • 1-2 tbsp vegetable oil

Steps:

  1.  Place all of the ingredients in a saucepan except for the beef, coriander, lime juice, noodles and stock in a pan.
  2. On a high heat fry the vegetables very quickly for 1-2minutes.
  3. Add the stock and boil for 3-4 minutes.
  4. Add the noodles and for a further 1-2 minutes.
  5. Serve the soup in bowls adding the beef, coriander and lime juice just before taking it to the table.  Enjoy!

(Note – the vegetables can be varied according to what you have available so don’t worry if you can’t get pak choi just use another cabbage for example savoy cabbage or even bean sprouts instead.)