Tag Archives: beef

Beef casserole, perfect for cold winter days!

30 Oct

 There are so many things I love about autumn and winter.  The dark nights when you can snuggle down in front of the fire, warm milky drinks to take to bed, long walks, wrapped up in scarves, gloves and hats and last, but definitely not least, thick warming casseroles, full of goodness and comfort.  I have been making this casserole for as long as I can remember.  My Grandma used to make a casserole out of ‘leg meat’.  I’m not really sure what cut this is, maybe it is peculiar to Derbyshire butchers.  I’ve often asked for it only to be given a blank look.  I have a feeling it is shin of beef but cut long ways instead of across.  Whatever it was, she used to cook it simply in water with maybe a bit of salt.  The result was incredible and the gravy to die for.  Oh well, enough of my memories. 

My version always uses braising steak.  Over the years the recipe has evolved.  Initially I would cook it like my Grandma, then, when we had the children and money was short, I started added vegetables to bulk it out.  Since then I have taken to adding some chopped tomatoes which give a great consistency to the gravy.  What we eat today, therefore, pays little resemblance to my early offerings but the flavour is simply delicious, accompanied by a big helping of mashed potatoes to soak up the gravy.  

Anyway, here is the recipe.  If there is left over meat it is fantastic in a cottage pie.  Simply line a pie dish with a layer of the meat and vegetables cut up into bite sized pieces and top with  potatoes and swede mashed together with a little low fat fromage fraise

Beef casserole                        Serves 4-6

  • 1 kg/2 lbs 4oz lean braising steak, fat and sinews removed and cut into large pieces
  • 4 white onions, peeled and halved
  • 4 large carrots, peeled and halved
  • Spray or Frylight sunflower oil 
  • 1 x 400g can of chopped tomatoes
  • 500 ml water
  • 1 beef stock cube (knorr)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 bay leaves
  1. Preheat the oven to 180C/170C fan/gas 4.
  2. Spray a large non-stick ovenproof casserole with a lid with the oil.  Don’t worry if you don’t have one, simply make in a large frying pan and transfer to your casserole when it is ready to go in the oven.  Brown the pieces of beef over a high heat.  The intention is to sear the meat and retain the flavours.  Do this in batches if necessary as you don’t want the meat to steam instead of searing.  When brown remove and reserve.
  3. Spray the same pan again with oil and add the onions and carrots.  Cook for a few minutes until they start to go a light brown.
  4. Add the tomatoes and water and crumble over a beef stock cube.  Season well.  When boiling return the meat to the dish with the bay leaves.  There should be enough water to almost cover the meat and vegetables but not drown them.  If not add a little more.
  5. Cover the casserole and cook in the oven for 2 hours, checking every now and again to make sure it is not going dry.  Check the meat is tender, if not give it another half an hour.   Remove from the oven and serve with mashed potato, pouring the lovely gravy over them.

    This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Advertisements

Healthy Spaghetti Bolognese – delicious

23 Oct

imageSpaghetti Bolognese is probably my husbands favourite meals. My version is not typical of a traditional Bolognese sauce as when I first started making it, many years ago when the children were young, I had to bulk it out with vegetables to reduce the overall cost and also to provide vegetables for my resistant children.  We still love it and have it on average once a week. Now there are just my husband and myself at home I still make enough for four people and simply freeze half in a rigid container to use when time is short or when I don’t feel like cooking. Defrost completely though before you reheat.

Recently I have been attending Slimming World to lose some weight that has crept on over the years.  I have adapted the recipe so, by my calculations, if you use the Frylight oil,  it is now Syn free. In fact, so is the pasta and, if the Parmesan is used as a Healthy Extra, that is free too.  A wonderful plateful of free comfort food, what can be better than that!

Here is the recipe.

Spaghetti Bolognese                     Serves 4 people

  • Frylight Olive spray or 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 1 green pepper, finely chopped
  • 200g chestnut mushrooms, sliced
  • 500g lean steak mince
  • 1 tsp dried Oregano
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 400g can chopped tomatoes
  • 1 beef stock cube (I use Knorr as Oxo is a bit overpowering in this dish)
  • 100/200 ml of water (just enough to loosen the mix and provide some sauce
  • Dried spaghetti (portion dependant on appetite)
  • Parmesan cheese, finely grated (Optional)
  1. Spray a large saucepan with the oil or, if you are not using the spray, add the oil.  Heat until hot over medium heat and add the onion. Fry gently for about 5 minutes until starting to go tender.  Add the garlic and fry for 1 minute more.
  2. Add the pepper and mushrooms and continue frying over a low heat for a further 5 minutes, stirring occasionally so it doesn’t stick.
  3. Turn up the heat to medium/high and crumble the mince over the vegetables. Mix well and cook until the mince has browned.
  4. Sprinkle over the oregano and season.  Mix well then add the tomatoes and water. Crumble over stock cube, mix well then bring to the boil.
  5. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook, uncovered, for 30 minutes until all the vegetables are tender and the sauce has thickened. Add a little more water if necessary.
  6. In the meantime cook the spaghetti as per packet instructions.
  7. Drain the spaghetti and serve with the meat sauce on top, sprinkled with parmesan if you like.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Beef Stifatho, a fantastic Greek casserole!

6 May

  I remember the first time I ate this dish.  It was in Aegina, a small island not far from the Greek Mainland and the port of Piraeus.  I was in the company of good friends, the wine flowed and I ended up singing with a group of four Greeks, none of whom spoke English.  The owner of the restaurant, Costas,  gave up at 2 am, brought us a final jug of Retsina, turned off all the lights and left us to it.  What a great memory!

Stifatho is a rich casserole of braised meat, and varies from one Greek island to another, and probably one household to another!  Some prefer rabbit in the casserole but I prefer beef.  It’s not that I don’t like rabbit but the tiny bones can be a bit fiddley.  The recipe I love best is one I found in a book written by Pamela Westland, ‘A Taste of the Greek Islands’.  If you ever get the chance to read it you will love it. 

Costas serves his Stefatho with Krithiraki, a rice shaped pasta, sometimes known as orzo.  Whenever I have cooked this I do exactly the same.  My kids love it and I never have to worry about leftovers.  You can buy it in most large Supermarkets.  The recipe is absolutely perfect for dinner parties, especially served with the krithiraki, as most people will never have had it and, those that have, will relish the memories it brings back of sun-kissed beaches, golden sunsets and friendly Greek people.  It can be prepared ahead and reheats well, it can also be frozen. Perfect for busy people! 

First a bit about the island of Aegina.  Aegina is part of the Saronic Islands, alongside Hydra, Spetses and Poros.  It is a beautiful island, very fertile and green and full of pine and olive trees, pretty villages and lovely beaches.  For those interested, there are also archaeological monuments, such as the Temple of Aphaia.  Aegina is probably best known, however, for pistachio nuts.  They have been grown on the island for as long as records existed and, today, you can buy them prepared in so many ways, roasted and salted in shells, packed into jars of local honey, covered in caramel to make a nut brittle and in their local nougat, just to name but a few.  The island is only small and it is possible to see it all in one day if you hire a car.  If ever I was tempted to live abroad it would be a tough decision as to whether to go to Aegina or Lardos in Rhodes.  For now I am happy to visit all my friends as often as possible and recreate wonderful Greek dishes such as this one.

Beef Stifatho (Braised beef casserole)  Serves 4 – 6

  • 6 tbsp olive oil
  • 1kg (about 2 lbs) braising steak
  • 2 small onions, finely sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 4 tbsp tomato puree
  • 200 ml (6 fl oz) red wine
  • 3 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 2tsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp cloves
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 inch cinnamon stick
  • salt and black pepper
  • 450g (1 lb) shallots
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp chopped parsley
  1. Set the oven to 170C/150C fan/gas 3.
  2. Heat half the oil in a flameproof casserole and fry the meat over a high heat, stirring, until it is browned all over.  Don’t overfill the pan or the beef will steam rather than sear.  Do it in batches if necessary, depending on the size of the pan.  Remove the meat with a slotted spoon and set aside.
  3. Heat the remaining oil and fry the onions over a medium heat, stirring, until lightly browned.  Add the garlic and fry for a couple of minutes then add the tomato puree, vinegar, red wine and sugar.  Return the meat to the pan and mix well.  Put the cloves and cumin seeds either in a muslim cloth or a closed tea strainer.  Add to the dish with the cinnamon stick and bay leaves.  Season, cover and cook in oven for 1.5 hours.
  4. Blanch the shallots in boiling salted water for 1 minute.  Add to the casserole and continue to cook for 1 hour.  Check every now and again to ensure it is not going dry, if so, add a little water.
  5. When meat is tender, remove from oven.  Remove spices and bay leaves.  Stir in the lemon juice and sprinkle with the chopped parsley before serving.

    This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Beef Roganjosh – perfect to come home to after early doors at the pub.

31 Jan

 The recipe I have chosen today is one that I have cooked many times over the years.  We normally have some sort of chicken curry on a Friday but this week I fancied beef.  It is difficult to find a recipe for beef curry, as a number of religions, cattle are considered sacred.  Some regions, especially India, have banned the slaughter of cattle and eating the meat is taboo.

It is possible that the cow was considered sacred because it had a major role in the lives of the Vedic people.  They used the milk to make dairy products and the cow itself to till the ground.  Even the cow’s excrement was put to use, as fuel, fertilizer and for producing  psilocybin mushrooms.  These grow naturally from the cow dung and, in modern-day, are known as magic mushrooms!  There are some scholars who disagree that the cow has always been sacred.  They can cite early Hindu scriptures that show cows and oxen were killed and eaten in ancient times.  Today, there are some Hindus who eat beef.  In fact, the Dalit Hindus, who have always eaten meat, often protest about having their cow eating rights taken away from them.

If anyone who reads this recipe does not eat beef for religious reasons,  lamb can be substituted.  The cooking time may, however, need to be reduced.

Beef Rogan Josh         Serves 4

  • 2 tbsp ghee (clarified butter) or vegetable oil
  • 2lbs braising beef, trimmed of all fat and sinews and cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 1 pint/600 ml hot water

Spices

  • 2 brown cardamoms
  • 6 cloves
  • 6 black peppercorns
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 2 inch piece cinnamon stick

Vegetable Mix

  • 2 tbsp ghee or vegetable oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 4 green cardamoms
  • 4 tbsp tomato puree
  • 150 ml full fat natural yogurt

Paste

  • 1 onion, roughly chopped
  • 6 cloves garlic
  • 1 tbsp coriander seeds, roasted
  • 1 oz/25 g root ginger
  • 1 tsp red chilli powder
  • 1.5 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  1. Preheat an oven to 160C/150C fan/gas 3.
  2. Grind the spices in a small grinder.  Melt the ghee in a large pan and fry the beef, bay leaves and spices together for about 15 minutes, over a low heat.  Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.
  3. Melt a little more ghee, if necessary, in the pan and fry the onion and cardamom in the vegetable mix together. gently, until the onions are golden, about 10 minutes.  Add the tomato puree and mix well.
  4. Place all the paste ingredients in a small food processor and blend to a smooth paste.  Mix the paste into the vegetables and cook, stirring continuously, for 5 minutes.  Add the yogurt and cook, stirring, for a further 5 minutes.  Stir in the meat, salt and water.  Transfer to an ovenproof dish with a lid, cover and cook in oven for 2 hours or until the beef is meltingly tender.  Check occasionally to ensure it is not drying out and add a little more water if necessary.

    This slideshow requires JavaScript.