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Category Archives: Savoury Food

Shin Beef Casserole

 


I love slow cooking and I’m a huge fan of casseroles, stews and tagines, where beef, lamb or chicken is cooked long and slow with plenty of veggies and herbs and/or spices.

My go-to beef cut for slow cooking has to be shin beef, called gravy beef in Australia. I cook with it a lot, loving the tenderness and flavour of the meat.

This is a Jamie Oliver recipe from the vault. I have cooked variations many times over, but I thought I would put Jamie’s original version on the blog again for those wanting a great comfort food stew that could easily be served as a ragu with pappardelle pasta.

The original recipe comes from “Cook With Jamie”, and here is the link to the website recipe:

http://www.jamieoliver.com/recipes/beef-recipes/melt-in-your-mouth-shin-stew

Here is my “tweaked” recipe. The most significant change I made is to lower the oven temperature to 150 degrees C. I think long, slow cooking is the way to go with this recipe. (When I blogged this in 2014 I suggested 160 degrees, but 150 degrees is better).

Ingredients

Lug of olive oil

6 eschallots, peeled and roughly chopped

6 baby carrots, trimmed and used whole

2 cloves garlic chopped

A few sprigs of fresh rosemary

1 bay leaf

750g quality shin of beef, trimmed and cut into 5cm pieces

Sea salt

Freshly ground black pepper

1 tbs flour

1 x 400g tinned tomatoes

1/2 bottle red wine

Method

Preheat your oven to 160 degrees C.  In a heavy-bottomed casserole, heat a lug of olive oil and gently fry the eschallots, carrots, garlic and herbs for 5 minutes until softened slightly. Meanwhile, toss the pieces of beef in a little seasoned flour, shaking off any excess. Add the meat to the casserole  and stir everything together, then add the tomatoes, wine and a pinch of salt and pepper. Gently bring to the boil, cover with a double-thickness piece of aluminum foil and a lid and place in your preheated oven for 3 hours or until the beef is meltingly tender and can be broken up with a spoon. Taste and check the seasoning, remove the rosemary sprigs and bay leaf.

Serve with pappardelle, polenta, mash or rice.

 

Christmas Beef Tagine


Christmas festivities are upon us! While there is a lot of traditional baking to be done, I have decided to go down a slightly different path for a dinner tonight that celebrates Christmas from around the world.

As a big fan of tagines, I decided to create a special Christmas Tagine.  Bright with the colours of Christmas, red and green, and deliciously fragrant with Middle Eastern flavours that remind us of the original Christmas story, this beef tagine is full of beautiful veggies too.

Of course, the beef tagine can be eaten at any time of the year! But it can be an alternative to the usual suspects eaten on the day, and would make a great Boxing Day or even New Year’s dish!

I have recently been researching the Keto Diet – not, I hasten to add, on my own behalf – but to better understand what a particular disciple of this low carb program can eat. So I had a go at creating something that might be at least keto friendly,  if not actually following all its tenets. I have certainly got to grips with the idea “above ground vegetables good, below ground vegetables bad”!

Here it is. You could substitute some non keto approved below ground veggies like potatoes or carrots, if you like, but they would need to be added in at the start of the recipe, as they take longer to cook. As prunes aren’t probably that great for the Keto Diet, but do add that traditional sweetness to the tagine, you could halve the amount to get the flavour without too much of the sugar. Or leave them out altogether!

Ingredients

2 teaspoons paprika – sweet

2 teaspoons ground coriander

2 teaspoons ground cumin

1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger

1 teaspoon chilli powder

1 teaspoon sumac

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon pepper corns – cracked in a mortar and pestle

2 teaspoons salt

2 tablespoons olive oil

500g diced shin beef/chuck steak

4 eshallots  and 4 spring onions, finely chopped

(Or replace both with 2 large onions)

1-2 garlic cloves, to taste, finely chopped

1  x 400g tin of chopped tomatoes

175g prunes

1.5 tins water (use the tomato tin as a measure)

1 tablespoon pomegranate molasses

1 small eggplant (aubergine), sliced

2 zucchini (courgettes), sliced

100g green olives

Chopped coriander, to decorate

Method

Combine the spices and pepper and salt in a large bowl. Add beef and stir until well coated in the spices. Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours or longer.

Preheat oven to 140 degrees C.

Heat a heavy based casserole on the stovetop, and add half the olive oil. Add the chopped shallots and spring onions or ordinary onions and cook them for 5 minutes until soft. Stir in the garlic and continue to cook for a further couple of minutes or until the garlic is softened but not browned. Remove all to a plate.

Add the rest of the olive oil to the pan. Tip in the beef and cook over a fairly high heat until evenly browned and caramelised.

Return the shallots/onion/garlic to the casserole. Add the chopped tomatoes, tins of water and stir well. Add the pomegranate molasses. Stir in a third of the prunes. Lay several slices of the eggplant (about a third of the eggplant) on the top of the mixture.  Bring to the boil, then put the lid on and transfer to the oven.

Cook for an hour and a half. Remove from the oven and lay the rest of the eggplant slices and the zucchini slices into the casserole, as well as the rest of the prunes and most of the olives, reserving a few for serving. Cook, covered for a further hour or until the beef is really tender.

If you’re not completely satisfied with the tenderness of the beef pieces, you can cook for a further 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and scatter the remaining olives over the tagine, and some coriander leaves.

The tagine should be looking pretty festive with its tomato red and coriander green, but you could add some sliced cherry tomatoes for a little more red or even, if so inclined, a few slices of red chilli!

Spiced Red Lentil Dhal

I was reminded of this red lentil dhal dish I made a et while back, when my food photo exchange friend, a pretty decent cook himself, was talking about Indian dishes and his latest cooking exploits.

It’s a tasty veggie recipe that’s perfect for making sure you get your 5-a-day! And the spices make it delicious and flavourful.

This is a Vegan Sparkles recipes with my tweaks – the link to the original recipe is here.

It’s super easy to make, looks colourful and enticing, and is both vegetarian and vegan. And for us Antipodeans coming into summer, it’s a great dish to serve for an alfresco lunch. And if you’re in the Northern Hemisphere, it would make a hearty first course in an Indian style banquet.

Ingredients

1 tbsp vegetable oil

½  onion, finely chopped

1 cup sweet potato, chopped into cubes

1 tsp grated fresh ginger

2 tsp mustard seeds (black or yellow)

¾ tsp ground cayenne pepper

1½ tsp ground cumin

1½ tsp ground turmeric

1½ tsp garam masala

½ tsp ground coriander

1 clove garlic, chopped

1½ cups dried red lentils

4 cups vegetable stock

2 cups water

1 tsp honey

1 cup grated and pulped carrot

1 cup broccoli florets

1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved

1 cup baby spinach leaves

½ tsp nigella seeds

Method

Heat the oil in a large saucepan or frying pan over a medium heat. Add onion and sweet potato and fry gently until onion is soft. Add ginger, mustard seeds, cayenne pepper, cumin, turmeric, garam masala  coriander and garlic to the pan, and cook, while stirring, until mustard seeds begin to pop.

Add the lentils, stock and water and simmer for 10 minutes. Stir in the honey. Put the carrot pulp, broccoli  and cherry tomatoes into the dahl and simmer for another 15 minutes.

The dahl will be cooked and somewhat reduced. If it’s looks a little too dry, add more water, or if it’s too liquidey, reduce down a bit more.

Remove from the heat and carefully stir in the spinach leaves until they are just wilted. Scatter the nigella seeds just before serving over the dish. They will give an interesting black fleck to the dish!

Pumpkin Ravioli with Goat’s Cheese



Home-made pasta is great to eat and pretty easy to make. There are so many different sizes and  shapes to make, and you can create different flavours by adding vegetables and herbs, as I did here by adding pumpkin to the dough.

This is a recipe for pumpkin ravioli with goat’s cheese I made a while back. I made two different fillings, one with goat’s cheese and watercress, the other with goat’s cheese, pumpkin, thyme and hazelnuts. The pasta dough has mashed baked pumpkin to give the pasta a lovely orange colour and subtle taste. 

The basic recipe I use for the pasta dough is a Jamie Oliver recipe. Click here for the original recipe. It’s straightforward and easy to follow. 

Ingredients

Pasta

3 large free range eggs

300g Tipo ’00’ flour

3 tablespoons or so of butternut pumpkin baked in the oven with a little olive oil, then mashed. The amount you use will depend on how “orange ” you want the pasta to be. If you add too much, the pasta will be too soft to roll, so start out adding less – you can always add more.

Filling

3 tablespoons or so of any soft goat’s cheese 

1 tablespoon or so of wilted watercress ( a few good handfuls of watercress will wilt down to 1 tablespoon – instructions below)

1 tablespoon mashed baked pumpkin (squash)

2 teaspoons roast chopped hazlenuts (about 10 or 12)

A few chopped thyme leaves

Method

Put the eggs and flour into a food proccesor and whiz until the flour looks like breadcrumbs, then tip the mixture on to the work surface and bring the dough roughly together. Add the baked pumpkin, starting off with a little at first, then adding more if you need to. Bring the pasta dough together into one lump.

Knead the dough and work it with your hands to develop the gluten in the flour, until the pasta dough starts to feel smooth and silky instead of rough and floury.  Wrap the dough in cling film and put it in the fridge to rest for at least half an hour before you use it.

Now is the time to prepare your filling, so you are ready to fill the ravioli once the pasta is rolled.

To wilt the watercress, place it washed in a small frying pan or saucepan with the barest amount of water. Cook over a low heat until it wilts. Break up the goat’s cheese with a fork, and mix in salt and pepper to taste.

To half the goat’s cheese add the watercress, and to the other half mix in the mashed pumpkin, thyme leaves and roast chopped hazelnuts.

I should note here that I inadvertently mixed in some wilted watercress into some of my pasta dough –  so I went with it – creating some lovely green speckled pasta dough that you can see in some of the photos.

For the pasta, dust your work surface with some Tipo ‘00’ flour, take a lump of pasta dough the size of a large orange and press it out flat with your fingertips. Set the pasta machine at its widest setting – and roll the lump of pasta dough through it. Lightly dust the pasta with flour if it sticks at all. Click the machine down a setting and roll the pasta dough through again. Fold the pasta in half, click the pasta machine back up to the widest setting and roll the dough through again. Repeat this process five or six times. It might seem like you’re getting nowhere, but in fact you’re working the dough, and once you’ve folded it and fed it through the rollers a few time, it should be smooth and silky.

Now roll the pasta dough working it through all the settings on the machine, from the widest down to around the narrowest. Lightly dust both sides of the pasta with a little flour every time you run it through. When you’ve got down to the narrowest setting, fold the pasta in half lengthways, then in half again, then in half again once more until you’ve got a square-ish piece of dough. Turn it 90 degrees and feed it through the machine at the widest setting. As you roll it down through the settings for the last time, you should end up with a rectangular silky sheet of dough with straight sides. For ravioli, roll the pasta down to the point where you can clearly see your hand or lines of newsprint through it.

Once you have rolled the pasta, you will need to work quite quickly, as the pasta dries out. Place the rolled pasta on a lighly floured board. Cut the pasta sheets into two if they are really long, or use two rolled sheets if they are the right length to make the ravioli. You can cover the unused sheets with a tea towel for a few minutes while you are making ravioli with the other sheets.

Place small spoonfuls of the filling on one pasta sheet, allowing for a border when you come to cut the ravioli. Moisten the exposed pasta and put the other pasta sheet on top. Press down to divide the sheets into individual ravioli and, making sure you don’t trap any air with the filling, seal the ravioli edges.

Cut pasta into shapes using a pastry cutter or a sharp knife. Dust the ravioli with a little flour to help them keep their shape if you’re not cooking immediately, or alternatively pack them carefully into freezer bags and freeze for cooking in the future.

Bring a large saucepan of salted water to the boil and put the ravioli in. Cook for 3-5 minutes, or until al dente. The fresher the ravioli are, the quicker they will cook.

For a quick sauce, heat a little butter in a frying pan until the butter foams and add lots of black pepper. Pour over the ravioli and serve with shaved parmesan.

Sourdough Sandwich Bread



Lately I’ve been experimenting with different types of sourdough, from wholemeal loaves to enriched white soft sourdough.

My current favourite is a wholemeal loaf that is great for sandwiches. It can be shaped as a batard in a proving basket and then baked in a pot, or equally baked in a loaf tin to make it easier to slice for the aforementioned sandwiches!

The recipe is based on my go-to sourdough method, with some tweaks for wholemeal. I have given instructions for both the batard in a cast iron pot and the loaf tin versions.

Ingredients

150g strong wholemeal flour

300g strong white flour

150g wholemeal sourdough starter

325g tepid water

2 teaspoons honey

10g salt

Method

Weighing, mixing, autolyse
Weigh both flours into a large bowl. Weigh the sourdough starter and add, followed by the water. Add the honey. Mix everything together very roughly, in order to incorporate the ingredients.

Cover the bowl and leave for 30 minutes to autolyse.  I use a clear plastic shower cap as a cover, as it fits nicely over most sized bowls. A plastic bag is fine too. The autolyse is an important step to activate fermentation. 

After the autolyse add the salt to the mixture. Now you can choose to knead the mixture using a dough hook in an electric stand mixer, knead by hand or use the stretch and fold method, essentially a no knead way of developing gluten in the dough. I strongly advise using a dough hook in a stand mixer – I have a KitchenAid which I swear by. You can really develop the gluten in the dough, which makes the dough much easier to pre-shape and then shape. *

Kneading and proving 
Using a mixer, mix the dough for 6 minutes on the lowest speed, then 4 minutes on the next speed up. The dough should be lovely and stretchy, and pass the windowpane test. If you pull and stretch a small section, it should be translucent. Cover the bowl again and leave the dough in a warm place to prove for about 4 hours. I usually do a couple stretch and folds too – one straight after mixing, and one half way through the prove. 

After the first prove of 4 hours the dough should have increased in size by about 50%.

Pre-shaping
Carefully remove the dough from the bowl with the help of a dough scraper onto an unfloured work surface. Definitely no flour needed! I use an oversized wooden board, but a bench top will work too. The dough will be stretchy, and shouldn’t be too delicate, but don’t be too rough! Slide the scraper underneath the dough, lifting it from underneath. You will feel the scraper catch the dough as it lifts it up. I try not to remove the scraper, just move it round all of the dough in a circle. Sometimes the scraper sticks, and you need to pull it out, remove the sticky dough, and then go under again, but the more you move around the dough, the tighter the dough becomes and the less likely to stick. Do this circular movement with the scraper a few times until the dough forms a round, wobbly ball that roughly holds its shape. Leave for 20-30 minutes to let the gluten relax.

Shaping
This is where you can shape for a batard in a proving basket to be baked in a pot or for a loaf tin. It’s important that you are super careful with the shaping as you don’t want to damage the dough you have worked so hard to develop.

Fo the batard shape, put the pre-shaped dough onto the work surface, lightly floured. Imagine the dough is sort of square shape. Take the two sides of the square shape that are opposite each other and gently stretch away from each other. Fold these stretched bits over each other in the centre of the dough. Turn the dough round 90 degrees and do the same with the other two sides of the square. Now that you have folded the 4 sides of the square, fold 2 of the opposing corners in the same way, and then fold the other opposing corners. Now roll up the dough like a Swiss roll, it doesn’t matter which side you roll up. Press the seam to seal.

If using a proving basket, carefully move the dough into a batard shaped proving basket, with the smooth side of the dough on the bottom and the seam side on top.

If using a loaf tin, butter a large loaf tin generously. Move the dough and place seam side down, into the tin. 

Second proving
While you can prove your dough for 2-3 hours at room temperature, I advocate the retarded or fridge prove, and this method serves me well. Leave the dough at room temperature for an hour then place in the fridge for 8-12 hours. Doing this at night works well as it allows you to bake your bread first thing the next morning.

Baking
For the pot method, pre-heat your oven to really hot – 250 degrees C. Put the pot in when you begin to pre-heat, and leave for 20-30 minutes.

Turn your dough out of the proving basket onto a thin flat baking tray or peel, well dusted with semolina. The pretty side of the dough is now on top. Open the oven and carefully take the lid of the pre-heated pot off. You can then slide the shaped dough into the hot pot.

At this point you can score the dough using a lame or razor blade. For a batard, score with 1 or 2 long cuts down the length of the dough. Put the lid back on the pot. Turn the oven to 220 degrees C or 200 degrees C fan-forced. Bake for 30 minutes, then remove the lid and bake for a further 20-30 minutes with the lid off. I have experimented endlessly with this latter baking time, and have come to the conclusion that the longer baking time gives a richer, browner loaf, which is what I prefer.

If baking in a loaf tin, pre-heat your oven to 250 degrees C 30 minutes prior to baking. If you have one, use a baking or pizza stone. Place this in the oven at the time of pre-heating. Once the 30 minutes is up, to add steam to the oven, put a cast iron pan or a baking dish with water in it in the bottom of the oven. Put the loaf tin in the oven onto the heated stone.

Turn the oven to 220 degrees C or 200 degrees C fan-forced and bake for 45-50 minutes. The loaf should be dark brown on top.

For either the batard or the loaf, once cooked, remove from the oven, take out of the pot/tin and leave to cool for an hour.

This bread, as the title of the post suggests, makes great sandwiches! It’s easy to slice into manageable sandwich slices. Great with lots of  kinds of fillings but I’m partial to egg and mayonnaise. I can strongly recommend that combination!

Of course like any good sourdough, lovely with plenty of butter and home made jam!

*If you don’t have an electric mixer, I recommend the stretch and fold method – see previous post on Sourdough, Ultimate Bread here for how to do this. As for traditional kneading, there is plenty of information on the internet to guide you.

Barbecue Steak with a Wicked Treacle Glaze



Steak? With a treacle glaze? No, I’m not joking, this is an excellent barbecue recipe! And treacle works a treat with steak.

The recipe comes from James Martin’s French Adventure, a fabulous television series and great accompanying book. I’m a huge fan of James Martin, as his recipes are no nonsense and easy to follow.

I made this delicious steak dish a couple of years ago, and, with the warmer spring weather happening here in Sydney, it’s time to get out the barbecue utensils and get barbecuing! However, if the weather is inclement this recipe works equally well in a cast iron grill pan on the stove top.

I cooked the recipe with sirloin, a cut I think barbecues well. Any large thick steak would do, thick enough to cut into decent slices once cooked.

Quantities for 4 hungry people for lunch, or a summer barbecue dinner.

Ingredients

1 baguette

100ml olive oil

1 garlic bulb, cut in half

4 large steaks (sirloin, rib eye, scotch fillet, all work well)

2 tbsp black treacle

A few sprigs of thyme

A splash of Worcestershire sauce

A couple of drops of Tabasco

4 spring onions

Mixed salad greens to serve

Method

Preheat a barbecue or cast iron grill pan on the stove top, till very hot.

Slice the baguette lengthways, then cut in half crossways. Drizzle with a little of the oil and char both sides on the barbecue or grill pan.  Remove and rub the cut surface of the garlic over the cut sides of the baguette. Cover loosely with foil to keep the baguette pieces warm while you cook the steaks.

Pour the remaining oil into a bowl, add the black treacle, thyme and Worcestershire and Tabasco sauces, and mix together.

Cook the steaks on the barbecue or grill pan for about 4 minutes, then baste with the treacle mix and cook for 2 more minutes. Carefully turn the steaks, spoon over some more treacle, leaving a little for drizzling once the the dish is served. Cook for a further 4 minutes. Remove the steaks from the heat and leave to rest.

Cut the spring onions into 2 or 4 pieces lengthways, depending on the size of the onions.  Place on the barbecue or grill pan and cook for 3–4 minutes, turning halfway through.

Place the baguette pieces on a serving platter. Slice the steaks thickly, and put on top of the baguette pieces. Scatter the salad greens and spring onions on the platter. Finish with a drizzle or two of the treacle sauce to serve.

 

Veggie Lasagne


It’s almost spring in Sydney and the warm weather is here. A sure sign is the jasmine in bloom – sprawling over fences and permeating the air with its heady fragrance.

I thought it was time to revisit a recipe for lasagne I made a while back. It’s made with goat’s cheese, leek and tomato, no meat, so it’s a lighter option, perfect for the spring here, and for the end of summer for those in the Northern Hemisphere.

It’s pretty simple. With no white sauce, it’s easy to make. The goat’s cheese is a perfect substitute. You could change it up with the addition of different veggies – spinach, zucchini, eggplant or pumpkin would be good.

Ingredients

2 tbls extra virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves
1 400g tin whole tomatoes
1 tsp sugar
1 big leek or 2 smaller ones
250g goat’s cheese
1 tbls milk
150g Greek yoghurt
Fresh lasagne sheets – enough to make 3 layers
Parmesan to grate over the lasagne
Cherry tomatoes, sage leaves
Fresh basil leaves

Method

For the tomato sauce, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a medium frying pan. Peel and finely slice the garlic and fry gently until softened. Add the tinned tomatoes and using the tin as a measure, add a tinful of water. Add a good grind of rock salt and black pepper and the teaspoon of sugar. Cook on a medium heat until the sauce is thick and reduced, about 20 minutes, breaking up the tomatoes with a spoon occasionally as you stir the sauce.

Wash the leek/s carefully to remove any dirt or grit. Finely chop the leeks. Put another frying pan on medium heat – or you can save washing up like me and use the tomato pan after they have finished cooking! Add the other tablespoon of oil, and when the oil is hot, add the chopped leeks. Stir for a minute or two, moving the leeks around to make sure they are all starting to cook down. Turn the heat to low, cover the pan and cook for about 10 minutes until the leeks are softened.

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C.

Break the goat’s cheese up, you still wants sine chunks so no need to blend or process. Add the milk to loosen the mix, and then add the Greek yoghurt. You are looking for a thick bit spreadable consistency. Season with a grind or two of rock salt and black pepper.

Now for the layering. Spoon 1/3 of the tomato sauce on the bottom of your baking dish. Add 1/3 of the leeks.Now put a layer of lasagne sheets on top. The size of your baking dish will determine how many sheets or partial sheets you need. I used one and a half per layer. Spoon ¼ of the goat’s cheese mixture over the lasagne sheets. Now start again and layer 1/3 tomato, 1/3 leeks, lasagne sheets and ¼ goat’s cheese. Finish with the rest of the tomato, the leeks and a lasagne layer.
Spread the remaining ½ goat’s cheese mixture thickly over the top of the lasagne. Grate as much Parmesan as you fancy over the top, and scatter some cherry tomorrow halves and sage leaves.

Place in the bottom of the preheated oven and cook for about 25 minutes until the top is golden and bubbling. Remove from the oven and scatter over a few fresh basil leaves before serving.

NB You could freeze the lasagne before baking, or after cooking, freeze whole or divided into meal size portions.

 

Cherry Tomato Quiche

 



Quiche is a classic dish, great for lunch, or a picnic or as the basis for a simple supper. Quiche Lorraine is always nice, but it’s good to make some variations on the traditional version.

It seems that cherry tomatoes are always in season in Sydney and more and more varieties come onto the market. I love the punnets of variegated tomatoes with their yellow, green and red hues.

So cherry tomatoes are the basis of this quiche, as well as a handful of sun dried tomatoes. To make the whole thing fresh and light, I used spring onions, rather than onions, utilizing the green tops as well as the white onion bottoms.

The base is shortcrust pastry, for this particular recipe I use Maggie Beer’s Sour Cream Pastry. The savoury custard is the traditional filling for a quiche.

Ingredients

Shortcrust Pastry
200g chilled unsalted butter
250g plain flour
135g sour cream

Filling
2 spring onions, finely chopped
250g cherry tomatoes (a punnet)
A handful of sun dried tomatoes
4 free range eggs
1/2 cup cream
3/4 cup milk
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon grated Parmesan

Method

Preheat oven to 180 degrees C, 170 degrees C fan forced.
To make the sour cream pastry, pulse butter and flour in a food processor until it looks like coarse breadcrumbs. Add the sour cream and continue to pulse until the dough starts to incorporate into a ball. Using your hands, shape pastry into a ball.

Wrap in plastic film and refrigerate for 10 minutes.
 Grease a medium sized fluted quiche tin with a removable bottom. Roll the pastry out to 3mm thick and place in the tin.

Rest for 15 minutes in refrigerator. This helps reduce shrinkage when cooking. Remove from the fridge, place some pie weights on baking paper inside the tart, and bake blind in the pre-heated oven for 10-15 minutes. Remove the pie weights and baking paper.

Decrease oven temperature to 170 degrees C, 160 degrees C fan forced.

Scatter the finely chopped spring onions over the base of the blind-baked pastry case. Chop the cherry tomatoes in quarters, leaving some of the smaller ones in halves. Scatter the quarters over the pastry base. Roughly chop the sun dried tomatoes, and scatter these between the cherry tomatoes.

In a bowl or large jug (the latter is very useful as you can pour the custard into the quiche tin easily), beat the eggs, cream and milk together until thoroughly combined. Add salt, pepper and grated Parmesan.

Carefully pour the custard mixture into the quiche tin. (I find it easiest to place the tin in the oven first before pouring). Place the remaining cherry tomato halves carefully in the custard. Hopefully they will sit artfully displayed in the cooked quiche, but don’t worry if they sink!

Bake until the custard is just set but still wobbly – about 30-40 minutes depending on your oven.
Carefully remove and leave to cool slightly before serving.

The quiche is fine as is, or you can serve with a few basil leaves, and/or some cherry tomatoes on the vine, which you slow roast for a couple of  hours until wilted.

Very fresh, very light, very delicious!

 

Lamb Tagine with Middle Eastern Flavours




Tagines, like casseroles and stews, are great dishes to cook meat long and slow. And slow cooking is fantastic for our Southern Hemisphere chilly nights!

This tagine is made with lamb shoulder and some lovely Middle Eastern spices and fruits. The shoulder needs to be boned and diced – my butcher does that for me. Less labour intensive than doing it for yourself.

The tagine itself is the star – just serve it with couscous or rice or homemade flatbread to soak up the juice.

I make my tagine in a heavy based casserole. You could do this and serve in a tagine if you like.

Ingredients

2 teaspoons paprika – sweet or smoked

2 teaspoons ground coriander

2 teaspoons ground cumin

1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger

1 teaspoon chilli powder

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon pepper

2 teaspoons salt

2 tablespoons olive oil

Juice and rind of a mandarin or orange

1 kg diced lamb shoulder

2 eshallots

1 clove of garlic

1  x 425g tin of chopped tomatoes

1 1/2 x tins of water (use the chopped tomatoes tin for this)

1 tablespoon pomegranate molasses

125g dried apricots

125g pitted prunes

Method

Combine spices and pepper and salt in a large bowl.  Add the oil, rind and juice of the mandarin/orange and stir to form a paste. Add lamb and stir until well coated in the paste. Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours or longer.

Preheat oven to 150 degrees C.

Heat a heavy based casserole on the stovetop, and add half the olive oil. Tip in the lamb and cook over a fairly high heat until evenly browned, then tip onto a plate.

Add the remaining olive oil to the casserole and stir in the the eshallots, and then cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in the garlic and continue to cook for a further couple of minutes or until the garlic is softened but not browned.

Return the browned meat to the casserole. Add the chopped tomatoes, tins of water and stir well. Add the pomegranate molasses. Bring to the boil, then put the lid on and transfer to the oven.

Cook for 1 hour. Remove from the oven and stir in the dried apricots and prunes, roughly chopped. Cook, covered for a further 40 minutes or until lamb is tender.

If you’re not completely satisfied with the tenderness of the lamb you can cook for a further 15 minutes.

Serve with the aforementioned couscous, rice or flatbread. A spoonful of yoghurt is nice too, and some chopped coriander.

Ham and Leek Pot Pies


I’m making lots of pies this winter, as well as sampling the pies of a couple of of really good bakeries. My local Bourke Street Bakery makes some beautiful beef pies, packed full of beef and encased in excellent pastry. Very yummy if you’re in a hurry and can’t rustle up your own.

I posted this pot pie recipe last year. It’s such a simple one to make as the filling takes no time. I made it recently, this time making ham and leek pasties instead of pies.

So here is the recipe from last year.

”I had some chunky ham pieces and a leek in the fridge so decided that they would be the basis for some simple pies. I also had a lovely washed rind cheese, soft and melting, that I thought would go beautifully with the ham and leek. I’m a huge fan of nuts, so it was a no-brainer that I decided to put some walnuts in the pies as well. They added a lovely crunch and texture to the pies  All these ingredients were stirred into a white sauce, piled into the bowls, topped with puffpastry and baked in the oven.

I recommend using a good bought butter puff pastry for the recipe.

The recipe makes two substantial deep bowl pies. You could double the quantities for a larger pie in a conventional pie dish.”

Ingredients

1 large leek
A knob of butter to cook the leek
Salt
200g ham chunks
50g any soft washed rind cheese
A small handful of walnuts or to taste

White sauce
25g butter
25g plain flour
600ml milk
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 sheets of butter puff pastry or about 180g from a block of puff pastry

1 egg, lightly beaten with 1 teaspoon milk, for glazing

Method

Cut the leek into small slices. Melt the butter in a frying pan and add the leek with a good pinch or two of salt. Cook on a low temperature until the leek slices are soft, about 10-15 minutes.

Chop the ham into bite sized pieces and roughly slice the cheese. Chop any whole walnuts into smaller pieces.

Preheat the oven to 190 degrees C.

For the white sauce, melt the butter in a medium, heavy bottomed saucepan. Add the flour and stir for 1-2 minutes, to make sure the raw flour taste is cooked out.

It’s important to do this and the subsequent stirring in of the milk with a wooden spoon.

Gradually stir in about a third of the milk, making sure the milk is incorporated and there are no floury lumps. When the sauce has noticeably thickened, add another third of the milk and repeat the process. Add the last third of the milk and cook until the sauce is nice and thick. Simmer gently for 5 minutes and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Stir the ham, leek, cheese and walnuts into the white sauce in the saucepan. Pile the mixture into the individual bowls.

Cut out circles of puff pastry that are larger than the diameter of the bowls and will be enough to completely cover the tops. Brush the tops of pies with the beaten egg.


Place in the preheated oven and cook for about 20 minutes until the top of the pies are golden brown and puffed up.

Serve piping hot straight from the bowls!

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