Category Archives: beef

Cottage Pie

Cottage pie is another one of those staple meals that somehow manage to keep these cold winter nights at bay.  It is a meal that I used to make fairly regularly at university as it was affordable and could easily feed a large number of people.  It is what I would describe as wholesome food – it gives you a good dose of protein, vegetables and carbs.  It is a meal that could very easily be prepared in advance and stored in the fridge for cooking later in the week.  It is definitely a meal to keep in mind during these winter months as it is another one of those comfort foods.

DSC_0120

Cottage Pie

Ingredients:

For the meat sauce:

  • 400g minced beef
  • 1 onion (diced)
  • 2 garlic cloves (finely chopped)
  • 2-3 carrots (peeled and diced)
  • 1 tin of tomatoes
  • 1 heaped tbsp tomato puree
  • 2-3 tbsp tomato ketchup
  • 1-2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1tsp mixed herbs
  • 1 beef stock cube
  • seasoning
  • oil (for cooking with)

For the mashed potato topping:

  • 5-6 medium potatoes (peeled, cut into quarters)
  • knob of butter
  • 3-5tbsp milk
  • seasoning
  • 25-50g grated cheese

Steps:

Step 1 – make the meat sauce

  1. Place the onions and garlic in a pan with a little oil and allow to soften.
  2. Add the meat and cook stirring occasionally until it has browned off.
  3. Add the carrots, tinned tomatoes, tomato puree, beef stock cube, herbs, half of the ketchup and the Worcestershire sauce and season well.
  4. Allow the sauce to bubble away and reduce slightly for 20-30 minutes.  Then taste and add more ketchup, Worcestershire sauce and seasoning as necessary.

Step 2 – make the mashed potato topping

  1. Whilst the sauce is reducing start making the potato topping.
  2. Place the potatoes in a saucepan with some salt, cover with water and bring to the boil. Leave to simmer until potatoes are cooked (to test see if a knife passes through the potatoes easily).
  3. Drain the potatoes and put back in the saucepan.
  4. Add the milk, butter and seasoning then using a potato masher, mash the potatoes until they are smooth.

Step 3 – make up the cottage pie

  1. Place the meat sauce in a deep ovenproof dish.
  2. Then carefully cover with the mashed potato and create a swirly pattern using a fork.
  3. Finally top with some grated cheese.
  4. Place in the oven and cook at 180C fan for 30 minutes.
  5. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 5-10 minutes before serving with the vegetables of your choice.

 DSC_0117 (2)

Beef Stroganoff and Homemade Chips

I have wanted to make homemade chips for a while as my parents inherited a deep fryer from the previous owners of the house when they bought it in 2006.  Up until yesterday no-one had touched this fryer, partly because we all have a deep rooted fear of the possibility of a fat fire.  So I plucked up the courage as I really wanted chips to accompany a beef stroganoff and did some reading on the internet on how to operate our fryer before giving it a go.

The first thing I have to say is I honestly had no idea how much oil you needed to use a fryer, to the extent that I had to go out to our local shop and buy some more.  On the flip side, the oil can be re-used which is good as I hate waste!  The whole process of making the chips was fairly painless, I preheated the oil, added the potato chips, set a timer and let the fryer do its job.  The chips were superb, even if I do say so myself!  They were crunchy on the outside and soft in the middle, everything you want in a chip.

As I mentioned above, the chips were made specifically to accompany a beef stroganoff, which has a wonderfully rich yet slightly sour sauce.  When making a stroganoff I strongly urge you to buy the best quality beef that you can afford.  This is because the dish is greatly enhanced by using high quality beef (you will find if you use cheaper cuts that the meat can be fairly tough).   This really is a great meal to try and is a good option for a special occasion as it is slightly different but absolutely delicious.  If you don’t have a fryer I would suggest serving the stroganoff with potato sticks or roast potatoes.   Enjoy!

 DSC_0697

Beef Stroganoff

Ingredients: (Serves 3)

  • 400g – 500g beef (steak if possible – finely sliced)
  • 1 red onion (finely sliced)
  • 2 garlic cloves (finely chopped)
  • 3 mushrooms (finely sliced)
  • 1 tbsp brandy
  • 1 heaped tsp paprika
  • 1 beef stock cube
  • 1 glass red wine
  • 2 heaped tbsp crème fraiche
  • 75-100ml cream
  • juice of ½ a lemon
  • seasoning
  • oil (for cooking with)

Steps:

  1. Heat some oil in a frying pan, add the onions and garlic and allow to soften.
  2. Add the slices beef and brandy to the pan season well and cook for 2-3 minutes then, remove beef from the pan and set to one side.
  3. Add the wine to the frying pan and reduce down, after about 5 minutes add the stock cube, mushrooms and paprika, stir together and cook for 3-5 minutes.
  4. Finally add the crème fraiche, cream and lemon juice, stir well and add more seasoning as required before placing the beef back in the pan and cooking for a further 2-3 minutes.

 

DSC_0693

Homemade Chips

Ingredient(s):

  • 6-5 medium potatoes (peeled and cut into equal-sized batons roughly 1cm thick)

Steps:

  1. Place the potatoes in some salted water and par-boil for 15-20 minutes.
  2. Drain in a colander and set above the pan to continue to drain for 30-45 minutes.
  3. Pre-heat your deep fryer to 150C.
  4. Add your chips and cook for 6 minutes.
  5. Raise the chips out of the oil and increase the temperature of the deep fryer to 180C.
  6. Cook the chips for a further 6-7 minutes or until golden brown.
  7. Drain the chips before serving.

Boeuf Bourguignon

Boeuf Bourguignon is a French classic originating in the French region of Burgundy.  It is therefore not altogether surprising that is traditionally made using a red Burgundy.  This is my take on the dish, using local/home-grown ingredients.  This dish needs very slow cooking at a low temperature.  I tend to cook mine it two stages – I cook it in the morning for 3 hours at 140C fan , I then leave it to sit in the oven until the evening when I cook it for a second time for 1 ½ hours at 160C fan, as I find this helps the flavours to mature.

As with all slow cooking, meat becomes beautifully tender and falls apart.  One word of advice when making this dish – don’t cut your vegetables too small as they can fall apart, and half the beauty of a meal like this is finding a lovely piece of mushroom or carrot.  My tendency is to serve it in a large bowl so that none of the sauce falls off a plate.

  DSC_0609 (2)

 

Boeuf Bourguignon

Ingredients: (serves 6)

  • 1 – 1.25kg stewing beef (gristle and excess fat removed cut into manageable chunks)
  • 750ml red wine (I used a local wine called Coteaux du Quercy but any full-bodied, fruity red wine will do)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 large sprig of thyme
  • 1 tsp peppercorns
  • 2 handfuls plain flour
  • 150g lardons
  • 1 red onion (thickly sliced)
  • 2 garlic cloves ( minced)
  • 600ml beef stock
  • 6-8 carrots (cut into large chunks)
  • 6-8 small onions (cut in half)
  • 6 mushrooms (cut into large chunks)
  • seasoning

Steps:

1.  Put the beef, wine, bay leaves, thyme and peppercorns into a large bowl and leave to marinate for as long as possible – preferably overnight.

2.  Once marinated, remove the beef from the red wine marinade (keep the marinade as you will need it later) and place it in a bowl with the flour and some seasoning.  Make sure it is well coated.

3.  Heat some oil in a large casserole dish, brown off the beef in batches.

4.  Remove the beef from the casserole dish and set to one side whilst you cook the red onion and lardons for 4-5 minutes.  Once cooked, add the beef and stir well.

5.  Add the marinade, stock, garlic, onions, and carrots and cook on a low heat for 5-10 minutes.

6.  Cover the casserole dish and place in the oven at 140C fan for 3 hours.

7.  After 3 hours add the mushrooms, stir well and if possible let it sit for a while before cooking for a further 1 ½ hours at the higher temperature of 160C fan.

8.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly before serving with French bread or a jacket potato and the vegetables of your choice.

Classic Lasagne

The weather is truly miserable at the moment, it is cold and rainy and it doesn’t make me want to go outside very much.  It is the perfect weather for enjoying a lasagne, another of my comfort foods.  The recipe below is our family recipe that I have been using for years.  It is everything you want from a lasagne – a meat sauce between layers of pasta and a creamy cheese sauce.  For some reason lasagne reminds me of my university days. I think this is because it is an affordable dinner party option that was always comforting and guaranteed to go down well!

Whilst I have been living in France I have been experiencing issues with the pasta bought locally not cooking properly which I think this is down to it containing a lot of starch.  Consequently, I have had to soak the pasta sheets before putting them in the lasagne rather than just putting them under the tap which I would normally do, which seems to have resolved the problem of excess starch.

As a family we tend to enjoy the lasagne with a big tomato and red pepper salad or coleslaw.  If I am feeling particularly indulgent I sometimes serve garlic bread as well.

 

Classic Lasagne

Ingredients: (Serves 6)

  • 12-16 lasagne sheets

For the meat sauce:

  • 300g minced beef
  • 1 onion (diced)
  • 1 garlic clove (minced)
  • 500ml passata (or tin of chopped tomatoes)
  • 1 heaped tbsp tomato puree
  • 1 beef stock cube
  • 1tsp mixed herbs
  • seasoning
  • oil (for cooking with)

For the topping:

  • 25g hard cheese (e.g. emmental or cheddar)
  • freshly grated nutmeg
For the cheese sauce:

  • 1pt milk
  • 50g butter
  • 1 handful of plain flour
  • ½tsp of freshly grated nutmeg
  • pepper (for seasoning)
  • 75g hard cheese (e.g. emmental or cheddar)

 

Steps:


Step 1 – prepare the meat sauce:

  • Place the onions and garlic in a frying pan with a little oil, cook for 2-3 minutes.
  • Add the meat and allow it to brown off.
  • Once the meat has browned off add the rest of the ingredients and allow to simmer for 15-20 minutes.

Step 2 – prepare the cheese sauce:

  • Make a roux by melting the butter in a saucepan.
  • Add the flour and make a thick paste.
  • Slowly add the milk a little at a time, stirring continuously to avoid lumps.
  • Add the nutmeg and season with pepper.
  • Once the sauce has thickened slightly add the cheese and stir until it is melted.

Step 3 – make up your lasagne:

  • Soak the lasagne sheets in warm water for a minute or so to remove some of the starch and allow them to soften slightly.
  • Take a large oven proof dish and make up the lasagne in the following order:
  1. Meat sauce
  2. Lasagne sheets
  3. Meat sauce
  4. Cheese sauce
  5. Lasagne sheets
  6. Meat sauce
  7. Cheese sauce
  8. Topping – scatter over the cheese and grate over some nutmeg.

Step 4 – cook:

  • Place in oven and bake at 180C fan for 30 minutes.
  • Serve with coleslaw, a salad and/or garlic bread.  Enjoy!

 

Chilli con carne, jacket potato and coleslaw!

Everyone has their own ‘go to’ comfort food and I think that chilli con carne is in my top five.  What I like about this dish is that the chilli offers warmth and a little bit of spice whilst the coleslaw counteracts some of that spice and provides certain freshness and a pleasant crunch. Finally, a jacket potato with its crispy skin and wonderfully soft middle fills you up and soaks up all the other flavours on the plate.  Perfect comfort food!

I recently entered a competition for comfort food with my lemon drizzle cake with raspberry sauce.  It did quite well and was selected as one of the top 10 recipes. However, sadly it did not win.  Since entering the competition I have been thinking about comfort food and how what food I go to for comfort changes during the course of the year.  For example, in the summer, my preferred comfort food is the aforementioned cake because it is so light and refreshing and gives you a brilliant sugar rush but on the whole doesn’t make you feel that guilty…  Whereas, in the autumn months, chilli con carne and lasagne are two of my favourites, particularly when the cold wet weather and short days are getting me down.

Chilli con carne

Ingredients: (serves 4)

  • 300g mince
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 garlic clove, chopped
  • 1 tin of kidney beans, drained
  • 1 tin of tomatoes
  • 4-5 sun-dried tomatoes, chopped (optional)
  • 1tbsp tomato puree
  • 2tsp ground cumin
  • 2tsp mild chilli powder
  • 1tsp sugar
  • 1tbsp red wine vinegar
  • seasoning
  • oil

Steps:

1.  Place the onion, garlic, sugar and a little oil in a pan – cook on a low heat until the onions are soft.

2.  Add the mince and spices and cook until the meat has browned off.

3.  Add the tomato puree, tomatoes, red wine vinegar and season well, cook on a low heat for 30 minutes stirring occasionally.

4.  Finally add the kidney beans and cook for a further 10-15 minutes.

Salted Jacket Potatoes

Ingredients:

  • Potatoes (ideally Maris Piper, King Edward or Mona Lisa)
  • Salt

Steps:

1.  Preheat oven to 200C fan

2.  Wash the potatoes well removing any bruises, eyes and bad bits.

3.  Sprinkle salt all over the potatoes.

4.  Place in the oven and bake for 50 minutes – 1 hour and 15 minutes depending on the size of the potatoes.  To see if the potatoes are cooked either see if a knife goes through easily or, preferably, give the potatoes a squeeze to check if the middle is soft enough.

5.  Serve with a little butter.

Coleslaw

Ingredients:

  • 400g white cabbage
  • 2 large carrots
  • 1 eating apple
  • 1 small onion
  • 2-3 heaped tbsp mayonnaise

Steps:

1.  Grate the cabbage, onion, apple and carrots using either a manual grater or a food processor.  (Personally I prefer it when the vegetables are coarsely grated).

2.  Place the grated fruit and vegetables into a bowl, add the mayonnaise and mix well.  Serve.

Stuffed red peppers

Due to the nature of the food that is available in the local markets and supermarkets around us the majority of the food I make is seasonal.  At the moment I am having to find inventive ways to cook peppers, courgettes, aubergines as they are just so cheap.  I love these types of vegetables in curries or just simply roasted, however, it is just too hot for that type of food at the moment.

Over the last couple of weeks I have been making stuffed peppers as they are a little bit different and look very pretty on a plate with some salad.  I find stuffed peppers are relatively simple to make and the other joy with them is you can  turn them into a great vegetarian option by simply removing the meat from the recipe and they are just as tasty.  I tend to use blue cheese as I just love its taste, however mozzarella works very nicely as well.

Continue reading