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Thai style beef and mango salad, one of our favourite meals!

16 Oct

 We first had this salad about eleven years ago, shortly after we returned from living in America.  It has been a firm favourite ever since and we eat it at least once a month and more often if I think about making it.  Although this is classed as a salad it could not be further away from what I grew up to understand salads to be, i.e. lettuce, tomatoes and cucumber!  The tender chunks of beef, straight from the pan, absorb the hot and spicy salad dressing.  The sweetness of the mango is in perfect contrast with the beef and the heat from the red onion and the watercress.  Your senses will rarely be subjected to such an attack on all levels, smell, taste and sight!  Absolutely delicious and very low in fat, carbohydrate and calories so excellent for anyone who is hoping to lose weight.  What more could you ask for?

Thai food is known for its balance of the four fundamental taste senses, sour, sweet, salty and bitter.  It is often spicy as well.  This dish is an excellent example of how this balance is achieved.  Don’t be put off by the ingredients, especially the mango in a savoury dish.  If you like spicy food I think you will love this.

Thai style beef and mango salad    Serves 2 (generously)

  • 2 sirloin steaks, trimmed of fat, cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 1 mango, peeled and cut into cubes
  • 1 red onion, cut in half and thinly sliced into half-moon shapes
  • 1 bag watercress
  • 3 tsp fish sauce
  • freshly ground pepper
  • juice 1 lime
  • small knob fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 1 small red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp soft brown sugar
  • Spray sunflower oil or Frylight
  1. Put the cubes of steak in a dish, add 1 tsp fish sauce and season well with freshly ground pepper.  Mix well and set aside.
  2. Divide the watercress between two plates.  Sprinkle the mango cubes and sliced onion over each plate.
  3. In a small bowl, mix together the lime juice, brown sugar, ginger, garlic and chilli.  Check for taste.  If it is too sweet add more lime, too sour, add a little more sugar.
  4. Just before serving, heat the oil in a wok.  When hot stir fry the steak , turning frequently, until it is browned all over.
  5. Divide the steak between the two plates of salad and dress, to your liking, with the dressing.  Serve immediately. 

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Beef Hotpot, great way to use up leftover roast beef

21 Aug

I wonder how many people buy a joint of beef that looks the business then find its tough and chewy when cooked. That is exactly what happened to me this Sunday. I know butchers say there is no way of knowing if beef is going to be tough before it’s cooked but it is such a disappointment on the day. Thankfully there was only the two of us for lunch and I was able to rescue it by slicing, cutting out the layer of grizzle and braising it with sliced onions in stock for half an hour before serving.

That left me with the problem of what to do with the other half of the joint. Those that know me will know I never waste food. I think of all those poor people who have nothing to eat and I just can’t do it! So, given the braising success, I decided to make a Beef Hotpot. It was a huge success, even if I do say so myself.

I think the secret of a good Hotpot is to make a really tasty gravy. The meat in this one is already cooked so will not be adding to the flavour so the recipe includes additions that overcome that. Some will turn their noses up at kidneys. Please don’t. Even if the thought of kidneys is abhorrent you will really not know they are in there and they add a lovely richness to the gravy.

I have made this as healthy as possible. It’s low fat and, for those on Slimming World, it is very low in Syns, 1 Syn between four people plus any you may add with Spray oil.

Here is the recipe. Serve with green vegetables if liked.

Beef Hotpot.                        Serves 4

  • Cooked roast beef, all fat and grizzle removed and cut into 1 inch pieces
  • Spray sunflower oil or Frylight
  • 2 onions, thinly sliced
  • 3 lambs kidneys, core removed and very finely chopped
  • 3/4 pt beef stock made with 2 stock cubes
  • Leaves from a sprig of fresh thyme
  • 1tsp Worcestershire Sauce
  • 2 tsp cornflour dissolved in a little water
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 3 medium red potatoes, thinly slices
  1. Preheat the oven to 170C/160C fan
  2. Spray a large nonstick frying pan with oil and fry the onion over a medium heat for 5 minutes. Add the kidneys and fry for a minute more.
  3. pour in the stock and add the cornflour, thyme and Worcestershire Sauce. Season.
  4. Add the beef, mix well, cover and simmer for 10 minutes.
  5. Pour all the beef mixture into an ovenproof dish. Cover with the potatoes then press the potatoes down slightly so they are covered with a little gravy.
  6. Cover with foil and cook in the oven for 1.5 hours or until the potatoes are tender. Serve while hot.

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Slow cooker beef curry, Slimming World friendly

13 Aug

Since my last post I have been voted Slimming World Woman of the Year for my group. I am completely overwhelmed and humbled that someone would even think of nominating me. As I stood at the front of group with five other amazing nominees it gave me time to take stock and reflect on my slimming journey and the lovely friends I have shared it with.  Some of my closest friends will know I have had a lifelong battle with my weight.  I weighed in at 9.5 lbs at birth and it was all downhill from there. I think my Father insisting I clear my plate before I could leave the table didn’t help any or that my wonderful, loyal husband flatly denying for forty-three years that my bum  looked big in clothes when I asked, bless him.

As you may have gathered, I love cooking but it wasn’t until I started following Slimming World that I realised just how much fat my food hero chefs used in their recipes.  It has been a challenge to adapt those recipes and, to my absolute amazement, the finished dishes are delicious and much healthier. I admit I am not over keen on the low-calorie spray that is recommended to replace oil and it isn’t always successful for frying some foods, so I often use a normal oil spray but limit the number of sprays and count the Syns. When a recipe is for a few people the individual Syns are negligible so as long as they are counted into my daily allowance it isn’t a problem.

Another great love of mine are cooking gadgets. I have recently invested in a slow cooker and could not wait to try it out. This is my first recipe using it. The curry was bubbling gently away all day and was ready for when I returned from my Group meeting. The house smelled divine and the curry was delicious so a great success.  Here is the recipe. It was adapted from a recipe on BBC Food so that it is Slimming World friendly. By my calculations this works out about two Syns for the whole recipe so only half a Syn if used for four people.

Slow-cooker beef curry                          Serves 4

  • Spray sunflower oil or Frylight
  • 800g/1lb 12oz beef braising steak cut into 2.5cm/1in pieces
  • 2 brown onions, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 red chillies, finely chopped, plus extra to taste
  • 2.5cm/1in piece fresh root ginger
  • 4 tsp ground cumin
  • 4 tsp ground coriander
  • 2 tsp ground turmeric
  • 2 x 400g/14oz can chopped tomatoes
  • 2 tsp garam masala
  • 200g/7oz 0% fat Greek natural yogurt
  1. Spray a nonstick frying pan with the oil or Frylight and fry the beef in batches over a medium to high heat until browned all over. This will take about 4 minutes for each pan.  The aim is to sear the meat so don’t overfill the pan. Transfer to the slow-cooker.
  2. Spray the pan again, lower the heat and fry the onions for about 5 minutes until they have softened slightly. Add the chillies, garlic and ginger and fry for 2 minutes more, then add the spices and fry for 1 more minute. If the pan appears to be drying out add a little water rather than more oil. Transfer to the slow-cooker.
  3. Add the tomatoes to the slow-cooker plus one empty can filled with water. Mix well then cover and cook on a low setting for 8 hours.
  4. Whisk the yogurt in a bowl and add 50 ml of hot water very slowly whisking all the time. This will stop it curdling when you add it to the curry.  Add the yogurt, mixing continually, to the curry. Add the garam masala and season with salt to taste. If you want the curry a little hotter add a little more chilli.  Cook for a further 30 minutes then serve with boiled rice and, if you like, a side salad.

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Chunky chilli, spicy and low in calories!

26 Feb

 How often do people start a weight loss programme and give in because the food is tasteless and boring.  This dish is just what the doctor ordered, Chili con carne!  I am using another Judith Wills recipe from her book of low fat meals, and I have made it more times than I can remember.  I love the rich flavour and the chunks of beef that gives a much better texture than mince, more commonly used in chilli.  I’m making a huge pan full today, enough for our dinner, meals on wheels for my kids and, hopefully, some left over to freeze for another day.  It’s great served with jacket potatoes, topped with grated cheddar, or simply with rice and maybe a side salad.

Chilli con carne is simply a spicy stew, derived from the Spanish Chilli con carne, and is the official dish of Texas.  In the 1880’s, brightly dressed Hispanic women known as ‘chili queens’ would light fires of wood or charcoal around downtown San Antonio, in areas where the public were likely to gather, and reheat huge cauldrons of precooked chili to serve to passers-by.  The aromas coming from their pots was a potent sales pitch and soon they were accompanied by groups of musicians to make it more of a carnival atmosphere.  In 1937, new sanitary laws came into force, requiring the chili queens to adhere to the same standards as restaurants.  I can hear all the shouts of ‘Health and Safety spoil things again!’.  The street cuisine disappeared overnight, although there was a brief remission in 1939, the laws were made permanent in 1943.

Last year we grew chillies for the first time.  If you have ever done this, you will know how profuse the chillies are on the plant.  I think we must have had at least one hundred.  If you find yourself in the same boat, and don’t know what to do with them, they freeze beautifully, whole, exactly as they are when you pick them.  When you are ready to use simply take a frozen chilli out and it can be used whole, sliced or chopped from frozen.  If you don’t want the seeds, simply knock them out of the frozen slices before you chop.

There are an incredible number of recipes to be found for Chilli con carne, most of which contain beans and tomatoes.  This is my favourite and I promise, you will never know it is low-calorie!  For those on a Slimming World diet, by my calculations, free if you use the spray oil and only 3 for people if you measure the oil accurately.

 

Chilli con carne     Serves 4

  • 1.5 tsp groundnut oil or Fry light sunflower oil spray 
  • 400g (about 1 lb) braising steak, trimmed of fat and sinews, and cut into about 1/2 inch cubes
  • 2 medium onions, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 red pepper. deseeded and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 2 fresh red jalapeno chillies, chopped (leave the seeds in if you like your chilli hot)
  • 1 tsp Tabasco sauce
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 400g can chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp tomato puree
  • 400g can red kidney beans, drained
  • 250ml beef stock
  • salt and black pepper
  • Chopped coriander to serve (optional)
  1. Heat half the oil in a large, lidded, non-stick pan and fry the meat over a high heat until brown all over.  Do this in batches rather than overfill the pan as the meat will steam rather than fry.  Remove the meat with a slotted spoon and reserve.
  2. Add the rest of the oil, reduce the heat and saute the onion, garlic, chillies and pepper for 10 minutes.  Stir occasionally and be careful they do not burn.
  3. Add the paprika, Tabasco and cumin, stir and cook for 1 minute more.
  4. Pour in the tomatoes, tomato puree, beans, stock and seasoning, stir well, bring to the boil then reduce the heat to low.  Return the meat to the pan, check for seasoning and ‘hotness’ then cover and simmer for 2 – 2.5 hours until the sauce is thick and rich and everything is tender.

NB:  The heat of the chilli will mature during cooking so when you test for ‘hotness’ you will need to account for this.  It is better to add a bit more Tabasco at the end than try to reduce the heat, which is almost impossible. 

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Ramen beef and mushrooms

18 Sep

imageThis lovely beef Ramen dish reminded me of two things. Firstly, there are still amazing recipes to try that will shoot straight into your top 20 and secondly, always buy the best you can afford.  In this case I bought fillet steak and the end result was melt in your mouth beef accompanied by soft noodles in an incredibly beautiful spice infused broth.  Overall a sensational combinations of taste explosions in your mouth that I was still savouring for some time afterwards.

The broth is based on Miso, a traditional Japanese staple food and seasoning.  There are two main types of Miso and its popularity varies dependant in where you are in Japan.  The most common types are white miso traditionally consumed in the western part of Japan including Kyoto, while the eastern regions including Tokyo tend to prefer red miso. Miso is typically salty but its flavour and aroma depend on various factors such as ingredients, fermentation and the length of the ageing process. Other important variables that contribute to the flavour of a particular miso include temperature, duration of fermentation, salt content and the variety of koji. These different ingredients and variables result in miso which may be described as salty, sweet, earthy, fruity and savoury. You can find Miso soup in most large supermarkets in the UK. Miso paste is more difficult to find. For a great selection of both try the Clearspring on-line shop.

Here is the recipe, a variation of the one I found in a Tesco magazine.

Ramen beef with mushrooms                                              Serves 4

  • 3 sachets of Miso soup (I used the red version)
  • 1 inch piece of root ginger, finely sliced into matchsticks
  • 1 star anise
  • 150g Udon noodles
  • 2 fillet steaks
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 oz shiitake mushrooms, halved if large
  • 4 oz chestnut mushrooms, sliced
  • 1  x 200g pack baby leaf greens, finely shredded
  • 1 red chilli, finely sliced
  • 6 spring onions, finely sliced
  • A few leaves of coriander for garnish
  1. Dissolve the Miso soup in 1 litre of freshly boiled water in a large pan. Add the ginger and star anise then leave to simmer over a low heat.
  2. Meanwhile cook the noodles as per packet instructions. Drain well.
  3. Heat a griddle pan over a high heat. Lightly oil the steaks and season well.  When the pan is smoking, griddle them for 3 minutes on each side. Remove from the heat and allow to rest for 5 minutes then slice thinly.
  4. Add the mushrooms to the broth and continue to cook for 5 minutes.
  5. Heat a little oil to a clean pan and fry the chilli and spring onions until just turning brown.
  6. Divide the noodles between 4 bowls and ladle over the broth in equal measures. Lay the beef slices on top then scatter with the chilli and spring onions. garnish with the coriander and serve immediately.

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Beef in Oyster Sauce, better than a take away

19 Jun

DSCI0632OK, so all my followers will know by now that I love Chinese food.  I also like Ken Hom recipes so this dish was a reasonably safe bet to turn out well. I was not disappointed.  Mind you, I did go all out with the beef and bought fillet steak. Some may think this was a waste but my husband is really fussy about meat and hates chewy bits in recipes where the meat is in a sauce and so they are well disguised.  This beef just melted in our mouths and was absolutely delicious. In actual fact, there wasn’t that much difference in the price of the fillet to other steaks so I feel my choice was justified.

Another essential is your choice of oyster sauce. Some oyster sauces taste fishy so buying the best you can afford always pays in the end. Ken Hom recommends Lee Kum Kee sauce found in most major supermarkets.

The dish is very savoury so goes well with plain boiled rice.

Here is a link to the recipe on the Good Food website:

http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/stir-fried-beef-oyster-sauce 

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Individual Beef Wellingtons – delicious!

10 May

DSCI0625I remember the first time we had a Beef Wellington. I loved it but my husband, who hates to eat meat that is too pink or bloody, had to have his flashed off in the frying pan. When I saw this recipe I could feel my mouth watering but I was quite nervous about what my husband would think of it.  The steak is a fillet and it would have been criminal to overcook it so I decided to go with the recipe. Thankfully they turned out perfectly.  The Parma Ham prevented the pastry from having a soggy bottom and added a lovely flavour to the finished dish.  Fillet steak is obviously not cheap but it is well worth the money for such a beautiful dish. Perfect for a romantic meal for two or a dinner party for special friends.  I served mine with green vegetables as I felt there was enough starch in the pastry for a rounded meal.

The origin of the name is unclear. (Wikipedia)

There are theories that suggest that beef Wellington is named after Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington. Some theories go a step further and suggest this was due to his love of a dish of beef, truffles, mushrooms, Madeira wine, and pâté cooked in pastry, but there is a noted lack of evidence supporting this. In addition to the dearth of evidence attaching this dish to the famous Duke, the earliest recorded recipe to bear this name appeared in a 1966 cookbook.

Other accounts simply credit the name to a patriotic chef wanting to give an English name to a variation on the French filet de bœuf en croûte during the Napoleonic Wars.

Still another theory is that the dish is not named after the Duke himself, but rather that the finished joint was thought to resemble a Wellington boot, a brown shiny military boot named after the duke.

Here is the link to the recipe:  http://www.olivemagazine.com/recipes/beef-wellingtons/4010.html 

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