Tuesday, 17 November 2015

Slow Cooker Beef in Red Wine

It's tipping it down outside, but I'm happy as I've just found the remains of Sunday's beef stew and eaten it.

I did find another portion a few weeks ago at the bottom of the freezer and wondered if I could recreate it.  But Dad took Sunday dinner into his own hands, as he does, and has managed to make a similarly tasty stew without knowing it.

With a slow cooker I think the trick is to leave most vegetables out. We just steamed some to have on the side later.

1kg stewing beef, shin (off the bone is cheaper), or ox cheek cut into bite sized pieces
2 medium onions, peeled and chopped
1 large clove of garlic, peeled and finely chopped
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp plain flour
2 bay leaves
1 stick of cinnamon or a star anise (this gives a lovely warming tingle)
500ml red wine
Beef stock cube
Boiling water to top up
Cornflour to thicken

Toss the beef in the flour and brown in a frying pan.  Place into the heating slow cooker then fry the onions and garlic, adding more oil if needed and fry until beginning to brown then add to the slow cooker.  Heat the wine in the frying pan with the crumbled beef stock cube and scrape all the yummy bits off the bottom of the pan.  Pour over the beef once it has come to the boil.  Add the bay leaves and cinnamon or star anise if using and top up with boiling water so there is about 2cm covering the top of the beef.

Leave to cook on high for at least 6 hours.  And something I've only recently learnt, try not to peek!  It lowers the temperature and makes the cooking time even longer, and shin and ox cheek all the tenderising help they can get!

After 6 hours, when tender enough pour off the liquid into a saucepan and bring to the boil.  Mix 2 heaped teaspoons of cornflour with a little water until it is the consistency of single cream and add to the simmering sauce to thicken.  Return to the sauce to the meat in the slow cooker and season to taste. 

Dad served ours with roast potatoes and parsnips as it was Sunday, but it works just as well with boiled or mashed potatoes or even pasta.

Thursday, 29 October 2015

Spiced Pumpkin Muffins

Making Pumpkin & Ginger Jam yesterday morning gave me a great idea for the 24 little cakes I need to make for the infant school.

There is a River Cottage recipe for marbled muffins (sadly not available online right now I’ve just seen), and I thought I’d stir in some pumpkin jam.  But as my jam just fitted into five jars with none leftover I’ve had to revise my plan, and use my go-to fresh fruit/vegetable muffin recipe.

I only began making muffins a few years ago.  Before that my sister in law would put me to shame, effortlessly wiping up a batch as soon as she saw black banana or the like.  My muffins, by comparison, we more solid than rock cakes and even more inedible.

Then I stumbled across this recipe on the web.  I’m not sure where it came from, but it works.  My muffins are soft, slightly moist and most importantly, edible. I use these quantities for fresh fruit/veg + dried ingredient for consistently reliable results ie beetroot & white chocolate, apple & raisin, banana & choc chip, courgette & raisin, carrot & raisin (carrot cake) etc etc.
250g self raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
110g sugar
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 handful (50g) mixed dried fruit
80ml sunflower oil
150ml milk
1 egg
170g grated pumpkin

Place 12 muffin cases into a muffin tray.  If, however, you want big American sized muffins, I would suggest 8-10 muffin cases only.  You’ll have to experiment!

Weigh out the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl and mix with a fork to break up any lumps of flour.

Measure out the milk and oil and whisk in the egg.

Pour the wet mixture into the dry and fold in until only just mixed.  The trick to not making solid muffins, I have learnt, is not not overmix.  And a few patches of dry flour is okay.

Spoon immediately into the muffin cases. Sprinkle the tops with brown sugar if you wish.

Bake for 20-25 minutes at 190C/170C Fan, turning the tray halfway through cooking.  Bake until the muffins are lightly browned and spring back when touched.  Leave to cool on a cooling rack until bearable.

Tuesday, 20 October 2015

Rose Hip & Apple Jelly

I tried making rose hip syrup a few years ago and found it pretty 'woody' tasting, but an enticing photo on a Facebook post from BBC Good Food for Rose Hip & Apple Jelly together with a bumper rose hip harvest had me trying this. 

Unlike last time, the smell of the rose hips stewing on their own was fruity and appetising.  The taste too of the final product makes me realise I probably was dosed on rose hip syrup as a child in the 1970s.

500g rose hips
500g apples (crab, eating, cooking)
1 small lemon
About 500g sugar
Small knob of butter

Wash then simmer your rosehips in 1 pint of water for 40 minutes with the lid on until soft.  Leave to cool and then mash as best you can or chop in a food processor.

Roughly chop the apples.  There is no need to peel or core as you will be straining the cooked fruit through a jelly bag.  I simply added mine to the food processor with the rosehips.

Add 1 more pint of water to the pan together with the chopped rosehips and apple and bring to the boil with wide strips of lemon peel.  Simmer for about 15 minutes until the apple is soft.

Strain through a jelly bag overnight.  The strained liquid will look worryingly cloudy, and more like cream of prawn soup.  Don't worry! This clears once the sugar is added. 

Measure out the strained juice, adding 400g of sugar to every 500ml of liquid.  Bring to the boil gently to dissolve the sugar then turn up the heat and boil rapidly for 10 minutes.  Check to see if the jam has reached setting point by placing a teaspoonworth on a saucer that's been in the freezer.  If still runny after cooling for a minute or so, boil the jelly for another 10 minutes then check again.  I took mine off the heat too soon because I was in a hurry and ended up with a quite lovely rosehip syrup like maple syrup! So based on this experience, it could take 20 minutes plus to reach setting point!

Take off the heat and stir in a small knob of butter to clarify the jelly.  Pour into sterilised jars and seal with lids that have been boiled to sterilise.

If you do end up with a syrup like I did, just use it with pancakes, porridge, ice cream etc.

Wednesday, 14 October 2015

Slow Cooker Katsu Curry Chicken

A promoted ad for the BBC Good Food website's recipe for Easy Katsu Curry Chicken has inspired me to make a slow cooker katsu curry. 

Yes I know one, if not the main, feature of Katsu Chicken is the crispy breadcrumbed finish.  But as we've never had this before who's to know!

It is still blipping away in the slow cooker, and whilst the carrots and onions look quite presentable in the sauce, I probably will puree the sauce and thicken it with cornflour in a small saucepan before serving to avoid all evidence of vegetables.

This has a very mild curry flavour, and in fact reminds me of the curry sauce they serve in a chip shop!

Serves a hearty 4
8 chicken thighs

Sauce ingredients (from Gizzi Erskine's recipe for Chicken Katsu Curry in The Independent)
1 tablespoon groundnut or vegetable oil
1 onion, peeled and chopped
5 whole garlic cloves, peeled
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
1 tablespoon medium curry powder
600ml chicken stock
2 teaspoons honey
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 bay leaf
half a teaspoon garam masala

Turn on your slow cooker to heat up.  Brown the chicken thighs in a large frying pan.  Once browned, place the chicken in the slow cooker and fry the onion, carrot and garlic for a few minutes.  Add the curry powder & garam masala, stir once more to warm the spices, then scrape everything into the slow cooker and rinse the pan out with the boiling hot stock (or boiling water, adding the crumbled stock cube).  I added the honey and soy sauce here, but eating it 6 hours later I'm now thinking it would be best adding this right at the end before serving.

Cook for High for 4+ hours.  When just about ready to eat, remove the chicken thighs to a warmed bowl and transfer the liquid and stewed vegetables to a saucepan.  Remove the bay leaf and liquidise with a stick blender.  Mix the cornflour with about 1 tbsp water to a single cream consistency and add to the sauce it begins to simmer, stirring until it thickens.  Add the soy sauce and honey if you haven't already and check for seasoning.

Serve over rice.

Tuesday, 13 October 2015

Bolognese/Ragu Sauce made with Leftovers

The leftover Pork & Stilton, Venison & Damson, and Cumberland sausages from the last BBQ of the year found their way into this ragu, which in turn was made into a midweek lasagne.  The meat part  of this sauce could equally be made with leftover roast beef or roast pork.

A food processor makes light work of all the vegetable & meat chopping.

1 onion
1 large carrot
1 stick of celery
1 clove of garlic
1 tbsp olive oil
2 large handfuls of leftover meat
1 tin chopped tomatoes

Peel the onion and carrot.  Roughly chop onion and garlic and process into a fine rubble in the food processor.  Fry gently in a wide saucepan to soften whilst you roughly chop and process the celery and carrot to a fine rubble too.  Add these to the pan once chopped.  Cover and sweat over a gently heat for 5 minutes or so whilst you roughly chop the meat and process this to a rubble.

Once the onions start to look translucent, push the vegetables to once side, turn up the heat a little and add the meat.  Leave it to sizzle for a few minutes before adding the tomatoes (liquidised if you like, as my kids prefer) together with a can of recently boiled water.

Bring to the boil and simmer with the lid of for 20-30 minutes and the sauce has reduced and thickened to your taste.  If using leftover roast you may wish to add pepper and salt to taste.  Using processed meat, I found there was no need to add any further seasoning.

Monday, 5 October 2015

Jamie Oliver's Chilli con Veggie

We possibly had our last BBQ of the year yesterday, with 13 family members to celebrate Sprout's 10th birthday.  So today, with the arrival of rain, we are having a big veggie chilli to compensate for all the meat we consumed yesterday.

The recipe is courtesy of Jamie Oliver's website, and Kerryann's Chilli con Veggie.  Do note, the recipe is for 10!  I made halved the ingredients and still have a massive chilli for our family of five.  I also only added 1 teaspoon of smoked paprika and even this might have to much of a poke to it for my generally foodie kids.

Serves 5 (Halved from the original recipe which serves 10)
1 large onion
1 large carrot
1 large stick of celery
1 large clove of garlic
1 small leek
Half a fresh red chilli
1 tbsp olive oil 
1 tbsp ground cumin
1 tbsp ground coriander
1 tbsp smoked paprika (I only used 1 level tsp)
½ tsp ground cinnamon
1 tbsp dried oregano
2 tbsp tomato purée
125g dried green lentils
125g dried red lentils
1 tin red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 tin tin of black beans, drained and rinsed 
1 tin chopped tomatoes
500ml vegetable stock 

I chopped all my vegetables in a mini food processor, frying the chopped onion and garlic first in the olive oil, and then adding the chopped carrot, celery and chilli.  Fry this for about 5 minutes or until the onion starts to look translucent.  Stir in the spices and herbs and then the tomato paste and fry for another minute or so.  Add the beans, tomatoes, stock and lentils.  Bring to the boil then leave to simmer gently for about 30-45 minutes, stirring from time to time, and adding more liquid if it starts to get too thick.  It is ready when the lentils are tender.  Season and serve over rice or baked potato with a dollop of soured cream or greek yoghurt.

7pm - Kids have had their tea and wolfed it down.  A success.

Instagram: sunhillmakesbakes 

Thursday, 1 October 2015

Chunky Borscht or Eastern European Vegetable Soup with Beetroot

I love Borscht.  My mum used to make it in the summer for as long as I remember, liquidising it as directed by her 1960s Kenwood Chef booklet.  I thought it was the only way to have it, until in my early 20s, once only, I had a chunky version made by a friend's mum back from Poland.

I had tried googling the recipe in recent years but was overwhelmed by the amount of borscht recipes out there.  That was until I watched the Hairy Bikers make their version in their 'Hairy Biker's Northern Exposure' series.  With beetroot fresh from my new allotment, I made this for the first time last night.  It made exactly 4x500ml pots which have been labelled and taken down to Alresford Country Market this, so other than licking out the pan I had any of this long awaited soup.  So I am hoping that beetroot is not to everyone's taste, and at least one pot does not sell.

1 tbsp vegetable oil
15g/½oz butter (didn't use any)
1 large carrot, diced
1 celery stick, diced
1 onion, finely chopped
3 medium sized beetroots (around 450g/1lb unpeeled weight), peeled and diced (I used 2 small ones, grated, and still the soup is a wonderful rich reddy purple)
1 large waxy potato, diced (I grated a value white potato)
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1½ litres/2½ pints good quality beef stock (I only used 1 litre made with beef stock cubes as i was adding tinned tomatoes)
½ purple cabbage, finely shredded (used 4 large leaves of a green cabbage)
2 tomatoes, skinned, cored and chopped (used 1 tin of chopped tomatoes)
salt and freshly ground black pepper

To serve (Nope, don't have any of this to hand!)
sour cream
1 tbsp finely chopped dill

Soften the onion, carrot, & celery in the oil/butter in a large saucepan for a few minutes.  Add the potato & garlic and fry for a few more minutes.  The Hairy Bikers added their beetroot at this stage but I decided to add my raw grated beetroot later just in case it lost it's colour. Instead I added the tomatoes which they added later.

Add the stock and simmer for 15 minutes, then add the cabbage and beetroot and simmer for another 15 minutes until the vegetables are tender.  Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve with sour cream and dill if you have it.  If I have any soup left to try I might try Greek Yoghurt...
Instagram: sunhillmakesbakes