Slow Cooker Beef & Ale Stew

This is my version of Mary Berry's Beef & Ale Stew, adapted for the slow cooker, and minus the horseradish dumplings.  Although I have posted a Slow Cooker Beef in Beer before (with dumplings I note), this recipe has to be my new favourite.  I am not a fan of stewed vegetables in stews, with the exception of mushrooms which give this dish a really rich flavour.  That and the beer.

Serves 4
2–3 tbsp olive oil
800g braising beef, shin or ox cheek, cut into cubes
1 large onion, peeled and diced
1 large carrot, roughly chopped
200g mushrooms, cut to the same size as the beef
50g plain flour
500ml ale
150ml just boiled water
1 beef stock cube

Switch the slow cooker onto high to warm.

Cube the beef and brown in batches 1tbsp oil in a saucepan.  When brown, remove each batch to the warming slow cooker leaving behind as much oil as possible.  After the beef is browned, fry the onions in the saucepan, adding more oil if needed.  When brown add these to the slow cooker, and fry the m…

Easy Chicken Nugget Katsu Curry

I had decided life is too short to breadcrumb chicken to try a proper Katsu curry on my kids, but then I saw an ad on Facebook for a blog post about a Katsu curry made with chicken nuggets.

I fine tuned my Katsu sauce recipe and this was declared the best dinner ever.  Well the nuggets were, and could we have this again soon, possibly without the sauce?

Serves 4
1 pack frozen chicken nuggets (42 nuggets)
1 mug of basmati rice

1 tbsp sunflower oil
1 onion, peeled and roughly chopped
5 garlic cloves, peeled & chopped
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
1 tbsp medium curry powder
500ml boiling water
1 chicken stock cube
1 tbsp garam masala
2 tbsp plain flour
1 tbsp honey
2 tbsp soy sauce

Start with the sauce.

Fry the onion over a gently heat until soft.  Add the carrot and garlic and soften for a few more minutes.  Stir in the curry powder then add the water and stock cube when the smell of the cooking curry powder hits you.  Cover and simmer for 20 minutes to soften the vegetables. …

Bok Choy (or Pak Choy) with Oyster Sauce

Following a BBC Good Food recipe for Chinese Style Braised Beef One Pot, I decided to improve upon plain steamed bok choy as an accompaniment and google a suitable sauce.  Unsurprisingly, there are many out there, and this is what I cobbled together.

Serves 2 as a side dish

2 heads of bok choy, quartered lengthways and sliced if very large
1 tbsp sunflower oil
1 clove of garlic, peeled and finely chopped
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar (original recipe listed rice vinegar and sugar, so not having rice vinegar I thought balsamic vinegar would be a good compromise)
3 tbsp oyster sauce
1 tbsp light soy sauce
Pinch of chilli (optional)

Prepare all the ingredients, and mix all the wet ingredients together apart from the oil.

Heat a frying pan.  When hot add the oil, add the garlic, stir once then add the bok choy and stir fry for a couple of minutes.  Add a couple of tablespoons of water to help soften the stalk of the bok choy.  Once soft remove from the heat to a warmed serving dish.  Pour ove…

Slow Cooker Chinese Style Beef Stew

Trying to ring the changes with slow cooker stews I thought I'd go for a Chinese style stew.

I pretty much followed the BBC Good Food's recipe Chinese-style Braised Beef One Pot and infact had to cook it in the oven as I left too little time to stew it in the slow cooker.  I will try it another time in the slow cooker but would leave it on High for 6-8 hours to melt the sinewy beef.

I also prepared Bok Choy in Oyster Sauce, rather than the plain steamed bok choy BBC Good Food suggested.  Broccoli, cabbage, kale, spring greens etc could also be prepared in this way to liven them up a little.

My annotated recipe is below, for when I need to repeat it

3-4 tbsp olive oil (I used sunflower)
6 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
Good thumb-size piece of fresh root ginger, peeled & shredded (I never peel ginger, just chop it finely or grate it)
1 bunch spring onions, sliced (I didn't have spring onions so sent my son out to find as many wild chives as he could in the local park)
1 …

Creamy Vegan Tomato Pasta Sauce

Stumbled across a promoted video on Facebook showing how to make a vegan alternative to cream in pasta sauces. 

Simply liquidise 1/2 cup cashew nuts with 1/2 a cup of water and add to your basic tomato sauce a few minutes before the end of cooking.

I stirred this through pasta for the whole family and it was declared "one of the best pasta sauces ever", although this did not stand up to scrutiny (Me: "Oh really? Better than Pesto, Carbonara, or Bolognese?" Normal pre-teen grunting then resumed)

Basic Italian Tomato Pasta Sauce

Quite surprised to find that I haven't posted my basic Italian pasta sauce on here.  Admittedly I haven't made this basic version for a long; usually I add carrot and celery to make it into a Bolognaise sauce, or the base for Shepherd's Pie, or a Moroccan fish stew.  In fact I've begun to feel that a can of tomatoes or passata goes in pretty much everything I've cooked over the last few weeks.  But today is Meatless Monday, I've a half built Ikea sofabed upstairs in the spare room, I need to fit a new seal to the dishwasher door, I've had a hospital check up for me in the middle of it all, and soon the kids will be home wanting tea.  So basic tomato sauce it is.

1 onion, finely chopped
1 large garlic clove, finely chopped
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tin of tomatoes, liquidised or a 500ml pack of passata
Optional flavourings: capers, black olives, chilli flakes, chopped anchovies

Gently soften the onion in the olive oil over a low-medium heat.  Add the garlic once t…

Vegetarian/Vegan Hungarian Goulash

I'm not a vegetarian, but I do try to make a vegetarian or vegan main meal a couple of times a week, and tonight when bulking up a leftover roast pork Hungarian Goulash with some butternut squash I realised the butternut squash would work pretty well on it's own in this dish.

Serves 4

Half a large butternut squash, cubed
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 large garlic clove, finely chopped
1 tbsp olive oil
1-2 tsp smoked paprika
2 tsp caraway seeds
A large red pepper, chopped (I blended mine with the tomatoes because my kids say they don't like it if they spot it)
1 tin chopped tomatoes
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
Leaves from a small bunch of fresh marjoram or oregano (optional, but i have so much growing wild in my garden I was pleased to have a recipe to use it in!)
1-2 fresh red chillies, de-seeded and finely chopped
1 vegetable stock cube, crumbled

Fry the onions in a casserole dish over a medium heat until they start to brown.  Add the garlic, red pepper, and chilli p…