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Friday, 23 October 2015

Easy steak and ale pie

I have found a way to make steak and ale pie without the faff.  I know conventional wisdom dictates that to make steak and ale pie you must first brown your meat but I came across a recipe that offered aa alternative.  No searing, no fat splattered cooker, hands, clothes and anything else within a 3 foot radius.
I was sceptical at first but I have now made this recipe twice and it has been amazing!

You need (for a pie for 4 people)

1 packet of ready made puff pastry (I don't know why you would make your own unless you were a contestant on the great British bake off)
750g stewing steak (cubed)
2 tablespoons flour plus seasoning (I use salt, black pepper, mustard powder and a pinch of paprika to season mine)
Assorted veg (onion, carrots, leek, swede or any mix you like really)
Bottle of ale (I picked up some pale ale that was on offer and it did fine)
Couple of splodges of tomato purée
1 pint stock or water.

Method - couldn't be easier

Pre heat oven to 140C
Toss the cubes of meat in the seasoned flour
Put them in a large solid casserole
Toss the chopped veg in the remaining flour
Put that in the casserole too.
Pour over the ale
Bring it all up to a simmer on the hob
Squeeze in the tomato purée and add enough of the stock/water to cover the meat
Cover with foil and put a lid on (I always do that just to make sure it doesn't dry out)
Put it in the oven for 4-5 hours
Turn the oven up to 180C
Transfer to a pie dish, top with the pastry, brush with beaten egg and put back in the oven for 35 - 40 minutes or until lovely and golden brown.

Trust me ..it works and it is delicious.

Sunday, 18 October 2015

I need to watch the rugby!

What to cook?  Rugby World Cup is calling.  Today I need to watch Ireland vs Argentina and, more importantly, Scotland vs Australia.   So that's me planted firmly in front of the TV from 1pm till 7!  I need something that will cook while I watch the rugby and be a delicious Sunday dinner.
I have always been a fan of slow cooked cheaper cuts of meat so my choice for today is pork shoulder.
I spotted one of those oval enamel roasters with a lid last year in Aldi and snapped it up.  My grandmother used to have one in her kitchen.  She used to do an amazing roast chicken in it.  I have used it for today's pork.

Pre heat the oven to 150 C
You will need:
Shoulder of pork joint (3 - 4 lb)
White wine
Stock or water
Fennel seeds
Salt and pepper

Cut the veg into chunks or slices - I left them in fairly large chunks - scatter in the bottom of your roasting vessel (if you don't have a roaster like mine you can use a big casserole or roasting tin with foil covering).
Sprinkle the veg with salt, pepper and a teaspoon of fennel seeds.
Place the pork on top.
Pour over around 500 ml white wine (or cider, or beer) and 200ml stock (I use chicken stock for pork) or water.
Cover and put in the oven.
After 2 hours (during the break between the two rugby matches) take the lid off and cook for a further 2 hours
Take the pork out and let it rest in a warm place for half an hour
Turn the oven up to 180C and let the veg and potatoes brown a bit more in the oven.

Easy one pot delicious Sunday dinner ��
Now let's hope Scotland win the Rugby! ��

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Don't season it till you have tasted it!

Husband with palate of a Labrador has a habit of piling a load of pepper on whatever delicious morsels I set before him before even tasting it.

Last night it was chicken curry (and I didn't stint on the spices) so when he did his usual peppering I warned  him - I will hide a load of pepper in his dinner one day!

I was thinking about this today as I stood in the queue at the local supermarket.  I was pondering my grumpiness as the woman behind me in the queue progressed so far up the checkout aisle she could have packed my shopping.  I hate that.  When the person behind you gets into the space that should rightfully be yours until you have paid and left the checkout.  It happens so often and in my opinion is not helped by the habit that checkout staff have of beginning to put the next customer's shopping through before you have finished packing and putting your purse in your bag.  I often find myself under pressure to move away from the area that I end up doing a balancing act with my purse, the receipt, my card or any change, my shopping ... and it's just RUDE!!

On the way back in the car I was thinking about all the other trivial things that irritate me.  Room 101 may not be big enough to contain them.

Here are a few:

People who stop as the they reach the top, or bottom of an escalator as though they had no idea which direction to go in.  Just move! otherwise there will be a human pile up.

People who drive up the traffic lane that is either closed up ahead or merges up ahead, and jump the entire queue.

Clichés - all of them!

People who don't pick up their dog poo or hang their poo bag on a branch for the dog poo fairy to collect.

Buttons on my shirts that are too small for the buttonholes.

Misuse of the apostrophe

I think I'll stop there!

Sunday, 29 September 2013

New York cheesecake

This cheesecake recipe is easy and pretty much foolproof.  I have been making it for years now and I don't think it has ever failed.  It is also really versatile - I have made it with raspberries and I have made it with blueberries but it tastes just as good with just the lemon zest and juice.

You need
300g ginger nuts
100g melted butter
500g cream cheese - I use Philadelphia if I can't get to the deli
Vanilla - either half a teaspoon of good vanilla extract or scrape the seeds from a pod
Juice and zest of one lemon
3 Eggs separated
125g caster sugar
150 ml soured cream
2 tablespoons cornflour.

Whizz the ginger nuts in a food processor and mix with the butter.  Press into the base of a springform tin.
Chill in the fridge.
Beat together the cream cheese, vanilla and lemon.  Add the egg yolks and half the sugar and beat till smooth.
Mix the cornflour into the soured cream and add to the mixture.
Whisk the egg whites till stiff adding the remaining sugar and whisking again till shiny.
Fold the egg whites into the mixture and at this point gently fold in any blueberries or other fruit you fancy.
Pour into the cake tin, smooth the top and bake at 170°C for an hour.
Let the cheesecake cool and remove from the tin.

Admire your work and enjoy your cheesecake!  The results never fail to impress.

Sunday, 15 September 2013

Pork burgers

I had a Nigel Slater moment last week.  In his programme he often goes to the fridge and has a root about to see what he has.  It may be that the TV crew have filled the fridge beforehand with the right kind of leftovers and odd bits of food. ...not the kind that are usually found in my fridge (bendy carrots, yoghurt at least one month out of date, slimy mushrooms, lettuce with brown edges).  No, everything in the slater fridge is deli quality! 

So ...I had, on a whim, made an impulse buy of minced pork.  Not for me the impulse buying of clothes, shoes and handbags.  Oh no.  I was tempted by minced pork.  How sad is that?
I had no real plans for my pork when I bought it so was wondering what to do with it.  A rummage through the fridge proved, this time quite productive and my pork burgers were born.

500g minced pork
A handful of breadcrumbs
Finely chopped red chilli
Bunch of coriander chopped
Finely chopped red onion
Finely chopped garlic
Beaten egg

Mix all together and shape into 4 burgers.

Coat in some oil and fry till brown on the outside and cooked through.  Pop a bit of grated mozzarella on the top and put in a burger bun.

We ate two and I am looking forward the the other two (they are in the freezer)

Friday, 29 June 2012

Celebration Food

It was my daughter's graduation on Monday.  The weather decided that for one day, and one day only, it would be sunny and bright so that made a huge difference.  The main building at Glasgow University and the cloisters and quadrangle are stunning at any time but more so in the sunshine.

We went for lunch at the Pelican Cafe - opposite Kelvingrove museum.  I have read glowing reviews of this place and probably expected something a bit more special.  We were on a tight schedule as we had to be back at the university for the afternoon ceremony (vets - not content with one ceremony have another one in the afternoon!) so we only had an hour.  As we were the only people in the place that wasn't challenging!  I had croque monsieur with skinny fries and the others had burgers. It was OK - but I wouldn't go out of my way to go back.

The evening dinner was in a beautifully decorated marquee and the evening sunshine made it a lovely setting. The food was awful - you would have been disappointed if you had been served this quality of food on an airline.  Cynically - I think that caterers do this because they are unlikely to get complaints from people because nobody wants to spoil the night for their graduating offspring.  What a missed opportunity!  Anyone looking for a caterer (and there were around 500 people there that night) would steer well clear of these caterers.  The soup looked nothing like carrot and coriander - more like dirty dishwater, the smoked salmon starter was minuscule and had a pile of really sad salad with too much red onion on it.  The beef was the worst I have eaten in ages - and I have eaten some awful things - I went to boarding school and also my mother was not known for her culinary skills!  The vegetables were of the type that you sometimes get in restaurants as a side dish.  A couple of new potatoes, some tasteless cauliflower and broccoli and a piece of carrot.  The trio of desserts consisted of a chocolate brownie that was more like a flapjack, a small meringue topped with some cream and a single raspberry and a tiny cheesecake in a thimble sized plastic cup.

On a different level entirely is David Bann in Edinburgh.  I took my daughter there for lunch for her Birthday on Wednesday.  The food is amazing.  It is a vegetarian restaurant in Edinburgh (St Mary's Street).  I had a hot tart with dunsyre blue cheese filling for my starter - the pastry was the best I have ever eaten - it was crisp and buttery and the filling had just the right amount of blue cheese flavour.  I then had a pea and mint risotto with asparagus and a poached egg which was also delicious.  If you haven't tried David Bann then I suggest you give it a go.  Vegetarians get such a rough deal in most restaurants with the one or, if they are lucky, two choices (usually involving ricotta or goats cheese) it's good to go somewhere where there is imaginative and tasty vegetarian food and a whole menu to choose from.

I'm looking forward to Taste in Edinburgh next weekend.  We have tickets for Saturday.  I love grazing round the stalls and trying things I would never pick from the menu if I were eating out.  Last year I took a chance on the lobster bisque creme brulee - it was horrible!!  Let me tell you that is an experiment too far and should never make it onto any menu.

Thursday, 21 June 2012

The big roast beef question

My family are food philistines!
I made roast beef on Sunday- a lovely piece of rib - but the problem is we have different tastes.
I like it rare - they like it well done.
It is almost impossible to cook it so that everyone is happy.
This time I ended up letting them have it the way they like it - but if I am cooking it should I get to have it the way I like it?  Discuss...