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Category Archives: Slow Cooked Food

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.

Beef, Tomato and Red Wine Pie

 



May 2020. Autumn is about to turn into winter, and we’re still in partial lockdown. The weather is lovely, lots of warm days with crisp nights. Although we can now travel around New South Wales, it’s still nice to stay at home and do lots of winter cooking.

I’m very keen on pies at the moment. They’re great to make ahead and freeze, so there’s always a tasty meal on hand that can be put in the oven and eaten piping hot!

This is a recipe for a meat pie with a rich beef filling. I make a lovely casserole with shin (gravy) beef.   The casserole has lots of tomato and a good splosh of red wine. The casserole is great too, as is, served with baked potato, pasta, rice or polenta.

Once you’ve cooked the filling, you then make some shortcrust pastry. Pop the filling into the pastry and bake. A lovely homemade pie is ready for eating!

note – you can make either the beef filling or the shortcrust pastry well ahead of time, and put the pie together when you actually want to bake it.

Ingredients
Beef Filling

500g shin (gravy) beef or chuck steak or blade steak if you can’t get shin
1 dessertspoon plain flour
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 medium brown onions, chopped
2 – 4 shallots (more or less depending on the size of the shallots), chopped
2 x 400g tins whole peeled tomatoes
I large tomato, roughly chopped
200 mls red wine
1 tinful of water
1 tablespoon molasses
1 dessertspoon Worcestershire sauce
Sea salt, black pepper
A bay leaf
A few springs thyme
Few sprigs rosemary

Shortcrust Pastry

500g plain flour
Pinch of salt
250g cold butter, diced
Enough iced water to bring the pastry together – about 4 tablespoons
Free-range egg, beaten, for brushing the pastry

Method
Filling

Preheat oven to 140 degrees C.

Place the beef into a ziplock bag with the flour, close and shake the bag to coat the beef pieces in the flour. Heat a heavy based cast iron casserole on the stovetop. Add two tablespoons of oil to the casserole.

Add half of the beef pieces and cook for a minute or two to brown the meat, turning to make sure all sides get the heat. This is just to caramelise the meat. Remove the pieces from the casserole and set aside. Add the other half of the beef and caramelise in the same way, removing from the casserole once browned.

Add the other tablespoon of oil, and add the the chopped onions and shallots. Fry over a medium heat until the onions and shallots are softened, about 3-5 minutes. Return the meat to the casserole.

Add the tinned tomatoes, roughly breaking up into the casserole. Add the chopped fresh tomato. Stir in the red wine, and using one of the tomato tins, add a tinful  of water. Stir in the molasses and Worcestershire sauce. Season with a sea salt and black pepper. Tie up the bay leaf, thyme and rosemary with an elastic band or a piece of string, to make a bouquet garnis, and put into the casserole mixture.

Making sure the mixture is simmering, carefully remove the casserole to the preheated oven. Cook for 3 hours, or until the beef is tender and almost falling apart. You should check after 2 hours, just  in case the casserole has cooked a bit dry. If so, you can add some more water. As a general rule, it’s pretty hard to overcook this cut of beef, so 3 hours is usually about the right time.

Remove the casserole from the oven, remove the bouquet garnis,  and cool to room temperature.

Shortcrust Pastry 

Place the flour and salt in the bowl of a food processor and blitz to combine. Add the butter cubes and carefully blitz until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. At this point, add the iced water a little at a time, blitzing after each addition. Only add enough water to get the mixture to start to come together into a ball, you may not need it all. Be very careful not to process too long each time you blitz, as this will overwork the mixture, and make the pastry tough.

Turn the pastry out onto a work surface. Bring the pastry together into a ball, with your hands. Wrap the pastry in cling wrap and chill for at least half an hour in the fridge.

Making the Pie

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C.

Remove pastry from the fridge. You will need a pie dish, tin or mould, 18cms or 20cms in diameter. Cut the pastry into two pieces, one slightly bigger than the other. Roll the bigger piece, for the base of the pie, between 2 sheets of baking paper, into a round at least big enough to fit into the pie dish, covering the base and sides. Ease the pastry into the dish. Don’t worry if the pastry breaks, it’s easy to patch up any gaps. You can trim off any excess from around the edge.

Now it’s time to fill the pie. You won’t need all the filling – fill with enough of the meat mixture to fit comfortably into the pastry. Brush the edge of the pastry with beaten egg.

Take the second, smaller piece of pastry, and roll between pieces of baking paper into another round, the size of the top of the pie, making sure you have enough pastry to overlap the top of the pie. You can always trim the excess. Place over the filling, making sure the top pastry meets the bottom pastry all around the pie. Seal the the top and bottom of the pastry by pushing down around the edge with the prongs of a fork.

Brush the top of the pie all over with beaten egg, before putting the pie into the hot oven. Cook for 30 minutes, or until golden brown on top. Remove from the oven.

Serve in big slices with a green salad or mushy peas and carrots, and a dollop of sauce if you like. I go for Worcestershire or good old tomato ketchup!

Leftover pie can be refrigerated and reheated in the oven. And of course you can freeze portions of the pie too. Defrost them and reheat in the oven. Never microwave the pie, otherwise the pastry ends up limp and pretty unappetising!

Beef Casserole: Isolationist Cooking in the Covid 19 Era

We are living in strange times, in the era of Covid 19. Like a lot of people, I am spending time at home, socially isolating to avoid unnecessary contact with people. I am shopping carefully, stocking up on staples, without going overboard, and thinking about what dishes I can cook with what’s in the freezer and pantry, and don’t require last minute shopping.

I will post a few of these recipes over the next few weeks. To start with, here’s a recipe for a beautiful beef and red wine casserole. I recommend buying some good slow cooking beef cuts and freezing for just this kind of recipe. The other ingredients that are not pantry staples are carrots and onions, and thankfully these can be acquired and then will last quite a long time, ie you can buy and keep on hand for a couple of weeks until you need them.

I began to write this recipe at the end of a Sydney summer, but it soon became apparent it would be a great start to my “isolationist cooking”.

It’s late March 2020 in Sydney. Just a month ago we were sweltering in a hot, hot bushfire summer with humid days and even stickier nights, when the temperature overnight barely dropped a degree or two, making sleeping and living difficult.

But the rain came and the cooler weather with it. Autumn is definitely in the air. While we will have plenty of warm days to come, there is enough cool weather to make me feel like starting some autumn cooking: cakes and tarts with autumn fruits, and nourishing, robust casseroles, rich with root vegetables and red wine.

This is a simple beef casserole recipe that I developed from the memory of many family meals and my own efforts at throwing a few things in a pot and coming up with something tasty!

Beef + onions + carrots + red wine + herbs = a pot of deliciousness.

Here’s the basic recipe. For the beef, any cheap cut of beef is great. My preference is for shin (gravy) beef, but that cut is hard to get in Australia. Chuck steak is good, as well as blade beef.


Ingredients

1 tablespoon plain flour
Sea salt and ground black pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
500g casserole beef cut into small pieces
4 shallots or 1 large onion, chopped
4 -6 baby or small carrots, cut into chunks or keep whole if small enough
1 tin whole peeled tomatoes
1 glass red wine
1 teaspoon vegemite or marmite dissolved in 1/2 cup boiling water
Bouquet garnis – bay leaf, a few sprigs of thyme and rosemary, tied together
A pinch of sugar to season

Method
Pre-heat oven to 140 degrees C.

Dust the beef pieces in the flour and salt and pepper by placing them in a zip lock bag and shake. Heat the oil in a heavy bottomed casserole on the stove top.

Fry the beef in small quantities to avoid “stewing” the meat, until brown on all sides. Remove the beef to a plate, add a little more oil to the pan if necessary, and fry the shallots and carrots.

Return the meat to the casserole. Add the tomatoes, roughly chopping as you mix in to the casserole. Add the red wine and vegemite/marmite and water and the pinch of sugar.

Cook on a medium heat with lid off for 5 minutes, then transfer the casserole, with lid on, to the pre-heated oven. Cook for about 3 hours or until beef is very tender. I check after 2 hours and test the ”doneness” of the beef. It is usually a little chewy and needs further cooking. If the beef is cooked to your liking, by all means serve now.

If there is lot of liquid in the stew, now is the time to leave the lid off and return to the oven.

Remove from the oven when finally cooked, and serve. Or the casserole can be refrigerated or frozen until you are ready to use.

I like to serve the beef casserole with rice or couscous or some potatoes baked in their jackets.

A really tasty recipe that not only is easy to make from the pantry and freezer but it’s a lovely way to spend time in these isolationist times.

Slow Cooked Beef Cheeks in Pedro Ximinez

 

It’s the start of winter in Sydney. A lovely time of the year, cold and clear, with blue skies and bright sunshine!

A ex-pat friend, Amanda M, is visiting from Cleveland, Ohio.  She remarked that it was “Fall” weather for her! I guess we are lucky in Australia to have relatively mild winters.

I’m posting this 2014 recipe again, to remind myself that it’s time time to get out the Le Creuset casserole and start making some lovely slow cooked beef dishes!

This recipe hails from MoVida Bar de Tapas, restaurants in Melbourne and Sydney, from the cookbook MoVida: Spanish Culinary Adventures.

http://movida.com.au/slowly-braised-beef-cheeks-in-pedro-ximenez-with-cauliflower-puree-carillera-de-buey/

I cooked the beef cheeks in the oven rather than on the stove top as the original recipe suggests. The temperature needs to be low and the cooking time long.  This is slow cooking at its best!

Ingredients

1.5 kg beef cheeks
125 ml olive oil
3 carrots, roughly chopped
1 garlicky bulb, halved
1 brown onion, sliced
500 ml Pedro Ximenez sherry
500 ml red wine
3 bay leaves
3 tablespoons thyme leaves
1 teaspoon fine sea salt

Method

Preheat the oven to 140 degrees C or even lower if your oven is hot (like mine).

Trim the beef cheeks to neaten them up and remove any sinew and silver skin. Season well.

Heat half the olive oil in a large heavy-based baking dish over high heat. Brown the beef cheeks for 2 minutes on each side, or until golden, then remove from the pan.

Add the remaining olive oil, then add the carrot, garlic and onion and sauté over high heat for 12-15 minutes, or until well browned. Stir in the sherry, wine, bay leaves, thyme, sea salt and 500 ml water.

Reduce the heat and add the beef cheeks.  Cover and place in the oven to cook for 3-4 hours, or until the cheeks are beginning to fall apart.

The sauce from the beef cheeks should by now be reduced and glaze-like. If it needs further reducing, remove the cheeks from the baking dish, cover with foil to keep them warm and simmer the sauce over high heat on the stove top until nicely reduced. Gently reheat the cheeks in the sauce if necessary.

I served the beef cheeks with slow baked yellow, orange and purple carrots, and grilled corn tortillas to soak up the sauce – mash or pappardelle or rice would also be good.

R

 

Strawberry and Watermelon Cake Reprise

 

Sydneysiders love this cake – the most Instagrammed cake in the world! It’s the famous Strawberry and WatermelonCake from the creative people at Black Star Pastry.

Below is the Black Star original.

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I blogged a beautiful version of the cake made by Doctor Rosemary a year or two back – see here for the post.

This week Doctor R was hosting a celebration for a visit from her ex pat family and a special new arrival! We were lucky enough to sample her 2018 take on The Cake. Same recipe –  with lots of luscious fruit, rose petals and pistachios for decoration.

It was outstanding! Doctor R’s version was fragrant, with different textures, and altogether more delicious than its famous predecessor.

This is the recipe, as written up in Australian Gourmet Traveller.

Ingredients
250 g seedless watermelon, thinly sliced
60 ml (¼ cup) rosewater
4 tbsp caster sugar
40 g almond meal
500 g strawberries, halved
10 seedless red grapes, halved
1 tbsp slivered pistachios
1 tbsp dried rose petals

Almond dacquoise
150 g almonds, coarsely chopped
150 gm pure icing sugar, sieved
5 free-range egg whites
135 gm caster sugar

Rose-scented cream
300 ml thickened cream
30 g caster sugar
2 tbsp rosewater

Method

For almond dacquoise, preheat oven to 200 degrees C. Process almonds in a food processor until finely ground, then combine in a bowl with icing sugar. Whisk egg whites in an electric mixer until soft peaks form (3-4 minutes), then gradually add caster sugar and whisk until stiff peaks form (1-2 minutes). Gently fold through almond mixture, spread on a 30cm x 40cm oven tray lined with baking paper and bake until golden (10-15 minutes). Set aside to cool on tray, then cut in half lengthways.
Arrange watermelon slices in a single layer on a wire rack. Sprinkle with 20ml rosewater, then scatter with 2 tbsp sugar. Stand to macerate (30 minutes), then pat dry with absorbent paper.
Meanwhile, for rose-scented cream, whisk cream and sugar in an electric mixer until soft peaks form, gradually add rosewater and whisk until stiff peaks form (do not over-whisk).
Spread one-third of rose cream evenly over one half of dacquoise, scatter with half the almond meal, then top with watermelon, trimming to fill any gaps. Scatter over remaining almond meal, spread over half remaining cream. Top with remaining dacquoise, spread over remaining cream and refrigerate until firm (1-2 hours).
Combine strawberries, remaining rosewater and remaining sugar in a bowl, toss to combine and set aside to macerate (15 minutes). Carefully arrange on top of cake, gently pushing into cream. Trim edges of cake, scatter over grapes, pistachios and petals, and serve.

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Peach, Passionfruit and Blackberry Meringue Trifle

F78F5F6D-F5A3-4779-9124-DBBB3EBE9FA4Here’s a fabulous trifle for a festive occasion! I created it for Christmas this year. It’s a lovely celebration of summer fruit, and is a different take on a traditional trifle with the addition of meringue and passionfruit curd.

You need to start with a pretty glass trifle bowl that will adequately display your trifle and its layers. You can really layer it any way you like, but starting with a cake layer and ending with meringue shards and peach slices seems a good way to go.

Here is the order in which I layered my version:

Cake
Peaches/ passionfruit
Passionfruit curd
Meringue
Cake
Blackberry compote
Custard
Cream
Meringue shards/peaches/passionfruit/individual meringues

52A88A87-81CA-40D9-AB69-B38A128CB1A1.jpegIngredients 

Meringue
3 egg free range whites
1/8 tsp cream of tartar
1 cup caster sugar
A few drops of yellow food colouring

Passionfruit curd
4 tbls sugar
Juice of 2 lemons
Pulp of 3 passionfruit
2 free-range egg yolks
2 tbls butter

Custard
3 large free-range egg yolks
35g cornflour
50g caster sugar
600ml milk
300ml cream

Blackberry compote
500g frozen blackberries
3 tbls sugar
2 tbls water

2 bought sponge cakes (you can make your own but it’s much less time consuming to buy them)

6 yellow peaches, cut into slices
Pulp of 3 passionfruit

1/2 cup or to taste of an orange flavoured liqueur. (I used Cointreau and Orange Curaçao)

300ml whipped cream

Method

Meringue
Preheat the oven to very slow – 135 degrees C. Line 2 baking trays with baking paper.
Beat egg whites at low speed with an electric mixer until frothy, add cream of tartar and beat on highest speed until peaks hold their shape. Gradually beat in 2 tablespoons of the measured sugar and continue beating for 2-3 minutes. Add all the remaining sugar at once, fold in quickly and lightly with a metal spoon.
Using 3/4 of the mixture, spoon or pipe two discs, each about the size of the diameter of your trifle bowl, onto the prepared trays. With the remaining meringue, colour one half yellow, and put both meringue mixtures  into two piping bags. Pipe yellow and plain meringues, as many as the mixtures will make, around the edges of the baking trays where you have placed the discs.
Bake the discs and meringues for 1 1/2 hours. Leave in oven for a further 1/2 hour or until dry.

Passionfruit Curd
Place all the ingredients into a saucepan over a medium heat. Stir with a wooden spoon, making sure all the ingredients are amalgamated and the sugar is completely dissolved. Continue to stir until the mixture thickens and coats the back of a spoon. Put aside to cool.

Custard
Put the egg yolks, cornflour and sugar into a large bowl and stir together with a whisk. Heat the milk and cream together in a pan until hot but not boiling. Gradually whisk into the yolks, then return the mixture to the pan. Stir over a high heat until the mixture just comes to the boil and the custard thickens. Take off the heat, cover and allow to cool.

Blackberry compote
Put the frozen blackberries, sugar and water into a saucepan and gently stir to dissolve the sugar. Bring to boiling point, turn the heat to low and simmer for about 10 minutes or until the fruit is softened and the liquid is reduced. Transfer to a bowl to cool.

Assembling the trifle
Line the base of your glass trifle bowl with half the cake, making sure there are no gaps. Liberally sprinkle over half the orange liqueur.
Scatter half the piece slices and half the passionfruit pulp over the cake. Spoon the cooled passionfruit curd over the fruit.
Now carefully place one of the meringue discs on top of the curd, trimming the edges if it’s too big. Place the rest of the cake pieces on top. If you think there is too much cake, leave some of it out. Sprinkle the cake with the remaining liqueur. Spoon the blackberry compote on top of the cake.
Carefully spoon or pour the cooled custard over the trifle, then add the whipped cream. Again, if you think there’s too much custard or too much whipped cream, add a little less.
To decorate the trifle, carefully break up the remaining meringue disc into shards big and small (so lots of broken bits don’t matter!). Place the rest of the peach slices and passionfruit pulp around the edge of the trifle and artfully place the meringue shards wherever you like.
Then finish by topping the trifle with the individual meringues.
This is how I made my trifle – I’m sure there are endless variations to the layering and presentation, so be creative!

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Middle Eastern Rosewater and Yoghurt Cakes

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A fabulously easy recipe which makes lovely little Bundt cakes or one large one.

I was first introduced to this recipe in a few years back,  when a director colleague made them to celebrate her production of the Tales of the Arabian Nights.

The link to the original recipe from the taste website is here.

I can testify as to how easy they really are! I have recently broken my wrist, and I was able to make these cakes one-handed, that’s how easy they are! The original recipe doesn’t specify a food processor, but I made mine in a food processor to simplify the recipe, and the result was perfectly fine.

The recipe makes one large Bundt cake or 8 smaller Bundt cakes; you would get 10 -12 cup cakes from the recipe too.

Ingredients
1 cup (250ml) canola oil
1 1/2 cups (330g) caster sugar
2 eggs
1 cup (280g) natural yoghurt
2 cups (300g) self-raising flour, sifted
2 tbs rosewater
1 cup (150g) icing sugar, sifted
1-2 drops pink food colouring
Sugared rose petals for decoration or a little icing sugar

Method
Preheat oven to 170 degrees C fan forced. Grease and flour eight 1-cup (250ml) Bundt moulds or one large Bundt mould.

Place the oil, caster sugar and eggs in a bowl. Using electric beaters, beat until well combined. Stir in yoghurt, followed by flour, then stir in half the rosewater.
Put the mixture into the mould/s.

Bake for 30-35 minutes for the smaller cakes until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. For the larger cake, you will need 10 minutes longer. Check with a skewer for “doneness” after 35 minutes.

Cool slightly in moulds, then turn out onto a rack to cool completely.

For icing, place icing sugar in a bowl with remaining rosewater and colouring. Use a wooden spoon to gradually stir in enough warm water (about 2-3 tsp), to make a smooth, flowing icing.

Turn out cooled cake/s, then drizzle with icing and decorate with sugared rose petals and fresh flowers. Or just dust with a little icing sugar.

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Simple Quince Tart

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This is a really easy tart. Some short crust pastry blind baked in a flan dish and some wonderful baked quinces layered in the pastry. Serve with cream. Bliss.

A few weeks ago I had a wonderful dinner with friends. Slow cooked lamb followed by tarte tatin made with quinces, which were redolent with heady spices. Cooked overnight, the quinces were a beautiful deep ruby red colour, and the cooking liquid had become quince jelly.

To me, baked quinces are the epitome of gorgeous winter comfort food!

My tart was not so elaborate as the tarte tatin but easy to knock up on a winter weekend afternoon, and quite delicious. This is a small flan just enough for 3 or 4 people.

Baked Quinces

Ingredients
50g butter
2 quinces
120g caster sugar
Juice of 1 lemon

Method
Preheat oven to 150 degrees C. Peel the quinces, halve lengthways and remove cores. Cut in quarters or slices. Melt butter in a heavy oven proof baking dish. Roll the quinces in the melted butter. Scatter over sugar and squeeze the lemon juice over the quince pieces.

Cover tightly with a doubled sheet of foil. Bake the quinces for 2-3 hours, basting a few times through the process, until the quinces are soft and a ruby red colour. Remove from the dish to cool.

Short Crust Pastry*

Ingredients
100g chilled unsalted butter
125g plain flour
75g sour cream

Method
Preheat oven to 180 degrees C, 170 degrees C fan forced. Pulse the 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. Remove from the processor and shape pastry into a ball. Wrap in cling wrap and refrigerate for 10 minutes.
 Roll the pastry out to 3mm thick and place in a well greased flan dish or mold, about 18cm or 7 inches in diameter. Any small mold will do.

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

To assemble

When cool, place slices of baked quince as elegantly or as rustically as you please in the flan. Serve as is or with cream or creme fraiche.

*This makes enough for a small flan. Doubling the quantities will give you a large pastry shell. You would need 4-5  baked quinces to fill a larger flan.

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Winter Pasties Revisited

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I made these pasties in 2014, and with winter almost upon us in Sydney, I am revisiting the recipes to get some inspiration for more winter cooking.

Beef, Tomato and Pedro Ximinez Pasties

The filling was some slow cooked beef cheeks, cooked in Pedro Ximinez sherry. I added in a chopped fresh tomato and and handful of chopped sundried tomatoes. I reduced the tomatoes with the cooked beef until the mixture was thick enough to be used a pastie filling.

Recipe for the beef cheeks follows.

For a dozen pasties, you would need about 1/3 of the recipe quantity. The rest is great served with mashed potato or pasta, root vegetables or green salad.

Ingredients

Beef Filling

1.5 kg  beef cheeks
125 ml  olive oil
3 carrots, roughly chopped
1 garlic bulb, halved
1 brown onion, sliced
500 ml  Pedro Ximenez sherry or a port or Madeira
500 ml  red wine
3 bay leaves
3 tablespoons thyme leaves
1 teaspoon fine sea salt

Pastry

3 sheets bought (butter) puff pastry

Method

Preheat the oven to 140 degrees C.

Trim the beef cheeks to neaten them up and remove any sinew and silver skin. Season well.

Heat half the olive oil in a large heavy-based baking dish over high heat. Brown the beef cheeks for 2 minutes on each side, or until golden, then remove from the pan.

Add the remaining olive oil, then add the carrot, garlic and onion and sauté over high heat for 12-15 minutes, or until well browned. Stir in the sherry, wine, bay leaves, thyme, sea salt and 500 ml water.

Reduce the heat and add the beef cheeks.  Cover and place in the oven to cook for 3-4 hours, or until the cheeks are beginning to fall apart.

The sauce from the beef cheeks should by now be reduced and glaze-like. If it needs further reducing, remove the cheeks from the baking dish, cover with foil to keep them warm and simmer the sauce over high heat on the stove top until nicely reduced.

Increase the oven to 190 degrees C. Take 3 puff pastry sheets, and using a plate as a template, cut out 12  20cm circles; you may have to gather up the trimmings and re-roll them to get all your circles. Don’t worry if you don’t get 12; just get as many as you can from the pastry sheets.

Spoon the stew on to one half of each circle. Brush the pastry edges with water, fold the other half of the pastry over the filling to form a half-moon shape and crimp well to seal.

Place the pasties on a lightly oiled baking sheet and brush the tops with beaten egg. Bake in the pre-heated oven for about 20-25 minutes, until the pastry is golden brown.

Eat pasties warm or cold.


Sundried Tomato and Persian Feta Pasties

Preheat the oven to 190 degrees C.

Simply chopped sundried tomatoes and crumble some Persian soft feta. Add a sprinkling of fresh herbs like coriander or thyme to taste.

The quantities are up to you – I used 6 sundried tomatoes and 3 small pieces of feta to make 2 large pasties from 1 pastry sheet.

Prepare 3 puff pastry sheets as in previous recipe.

Spoon the filling on to one half of each circle. Brush the pastry edges with water, fold the other half of the pastry over the filling to form a half-moon shape and crimp to seal. These pasties may open during cooking, but as the filling isn’t liquid, they stay intact.

Place the pasties on a lightly oiled baking sheet and brush the tops with beaten egg. Bake in the pre-heated oven for about 20-25 minutes, until the pastry is golden brown.

These ones are best eaten cold.

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Jamie Oliver’s Mexican Chilli

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I first cooked this delicious, simple and cost-saving recipe from Jamie Oliver in 2014. The recipe has certainly been popular on my blog! I guess everyone is looking for hearty, slow cooked casseroles and stews that can be quietly cooking away for a few hours. The original post can be found here.

The recipe comes from Jamie’s book Save with Jamie. I absolutely love it because it’s cooked with beef shin, bone in! Beef shin is so rich in flavour and gets better and better the longer you cook it.

The recipe needs to be cooked for a long time – 5 hours – and you end up with a lovely, unctous stew with plenty of liquid. The meat just falls apart, it is so tender.

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So here is Jamie’s recipe.IMG_8801

Ingredients

Chilli

Olive oil

2 red onions

4 cloves of garlic

2 fresh red chillies ( the large, not so hot ones – or more if you want more heat)

30 g fresh coriander

2 teaspoons ground cumin

2 teaspoons smoked paprika

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

2 x 400 g tins of chopped tomatoes

2 tomato tins of water

1 kg beef shin, bone in, sinew removed

2 fresh bay leaves

1 x 400 g tin of cannellini beans

Rock salt and freshly ground pepper.

Fluffy basmati rice and yoghurt or sour cream to serve

Method

Preheat your oven to 170 degrees C.

Heat a large heavy bottomed casserole on the stove top on a medium heat. Add swig of olive oil to the pan. Add chopped red onions and minced garlic and fry for a couple of minutes. Add chopped chillis and the roots and stalks of the coriander, leaving the tops for the garnish. Add the spices and a good grind of salt and pepper. Fry till the mixture is caramelized and gnarly, but not burnt.

Pour in the chopped tomatoes, fill each tin with water and add these to the casserole. Stir to mix, making sure you gather up all the goodness at the bottom of the casserole.

Roll the shin of beef in salt and pepper to coat, then place gently in the centre of the casserole. Turn to coat in the liquid. Pop the bay leaves into the mixture.

Place the lid on the casserole and move to the pre-heated oven. Cook for 5 hours. I suggest checking after a couple of hours, and then each hour, to make sure the liquid is not drying up. Top up with water, to loosen if needed.

20 minutes before the end, drain the tin of cannellini beans and stir through. Add a splash of the bean juices if the chilli looks dry.

When the meat is falling apart and the chilli is thick, shake the marrow out of the bone and stir it back into the chilli.

Serve the Mexican chilli with fluffy rice and yoghurt or sour cream, and coriander leaves to garnish.

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