Beef casserole with herby dumplings

I had the lovely Phil Dukes over for dinner and Doctor Who on Tuesday evening as Figgy is unwell. (We opted for Terror of the Autons – and excellent it was too!) I decided I wanted something warming and stew-y, and so after looking at a few recipes online I threw this together. It came out rather well, if I do say so myself! Because I cobbled it together rather than following a set recipe some of the amounts are a bit approximate, but you can always add more or less, as you prefer.

Serves 2

For the stew:

4 tablespoons of olive oil
500g of braising steak, diced
2 brown onions, peeled and sliced
1-2 large carrots, peeled, sliced and quartered
1 leek, thickly sliced
6 medium-sized, new potatoes, peeled and diced
150g of smoked pancetta lardons
2 fat garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
500ml of hot beef stock (as I was serving this with Brussel’s sprouts, I par boiled the sprouts and used the cooking water to make the stock, thus retaining the vit’mins!)
200ml of red wine
2 tablespoons of tomato purée
4-5 sprigs of thyme
3 bay leaves
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

For the dumplings:
(makes 6)

125g of self-raising flour
65g of shredded beef suet
Salt and pepper to taste
Leaves from 3 stalks of thyme
Water to bind (you’ll have to judge it as you go along.)

Pre-heat the oven to 180

In a large saucepan heat half the olive oil over a medium heat and then fry the beef until browned all over. Remove from the saucepan and set aside. Pour away the oil.

Return the pan to the heat, put the remaining oil in and fry the onions for 4-5 minutes, over a medium heat until softened and starting to colour. Add the sliced garlic and leek and cook for a further minute or so.

Then add the pancetta lardons and cook for a couple of minutes until they start to go crispy.

Add the red wine and use it to deglaze the bottom of the pan – scraping up any meaty bits. Then return the beef to the pan and add the stock, carrots, diced potatoes, thyme, bay leaves and tomato purée. Stir well to combine.

Season, then bring to the boil.

Take the pan off the heat and transfer to entire contents to a casserole dish. Pop a lid on and place in the oven for 1 hour and 20 minutes.

Whilst the casserole is in the oven, make the dumplings.

In a large bowl, combine the flour, suet, thyme leaves, salt and pepper. Slowly add the water, a little at a time, stirring to bind everything together. (NB: you don’t want your dumplings to be too wet, otherwise they won’t rise properly. If you add to much water, then just add more flour to compensate!)

Once you have a suitable dough, that is not too wet, then divide it into 6 even pieces and shape them into balls. Set aside until required.

Once the casserole has been in the oven for an hour and 20 minutes, remove it from the oven and gently place the dumplings on the top of the stew. Leave the lid off and return to the oven for a further 20 minutes, until the dumplings have risen and are golden brown.

A delicious stew, if I do say so myself. I served it with cheesy Brussel’s sprouts and sautéed black cabbage.



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Oxtail stew with chargrilled broccoli, chilli, garlic and lemon and paprika and onion roast potatoes

On Saturday evening I had the lovely Douglas over for dinner and vintage television (we opted for the first episode of, short-lived, 1960s, wannabe Avengers show The Corridor People, the Avengers episode Epic (With Peter Wyngarde) and the first two episodes of Spearhead from Space on Blu-Ray.) and so had a flick through my cookbooks to see what I could find. I found all three of these recipes in the book Dinner by Domini Kemp and they’re all delicious. I found the stew first, and that recipe recommends pairing it with the chargrilled broccoli, so I decided to both, and then found the roast potato recipe to go with them both.

The stew is delicious. I’ve never cooked with oxtail before and the long, slow cooking of the meat helps to make the sauce for the stew lovely and rich and thick. The meat is lovely and tender by the end and the addition of the honey, fish sauce and soy, as well as the ginger, garlic and chilli gives the stew a delicious flavour.

Serves 4

For the stew:

1kg of oxtail, cut into thick slices (I got this from the baker counter at Sainsbury’s and it was in thick pieces on the bone. That seemed to work well)
3 red onions, chopped and sliced
2 tablespoons of olive oil
3” piece of fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
2 red chillies, de-seeded and thinly sliced
3 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
1 tablespoon of Chinese 5-spice
800g of tinned chopped tomatoes
1 litre of chicken stock
50ml of soy sauce
50ml of fish sauce
3 tablespoons of honey
A bunch of coriander, chopped

Put the pieces of oxtail in a saucepan, cover with cold water. Bring to the boil and then simmer for 15 minutes. Drain, rinse with cold water. Set aside.

In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil and sauté the onion until it starts to colour. Add the chilli, garlic and ginger and the Chinese spice powder. Turn up the heat to give it a good blast and stir well to combine.

Turn down the heat and add the tomatoes and stock. Bring to a simmer, and then add the oxtail pieces. Stir well to ensure that the oxtail pieces are well coated.

Cover and cook on a gentle heat for an hour and a half, stirring every 20 minutes or so, to ensure that it isn’t sticking.

After an hour and a half, add the soy sauce, fish sauce and honey. Stir well to combine. Recover and simmer for a further 20 minutes.

The recipe says to leave it to rest, off the heat, for an hour, before re-heating, as this allows the flavours to develop. I could only leave it for 40 minutes but that seemed fine – the flavours were really rich and tasty.

Serve, garnished with chopped coriander/

For the potatoes:

Serves 4

500g of baby new potatoes
2 onions, peeled and quartered
1 teaspoon of hot paprika
1 teaspoon of smoked paprika
2 tablespoons of olive oil
Salt and pepper

Pre-heat the oven to 180

Chop the potatoes into bite-sized pieces. Toss with the other ingredients, making sure that everything is well coated.

Roast for about 30 minutes until golden brown and tender.

For the chargrilled broccoli:

Serves 4

2 heads of broccoli (I used stalks of tenderstem broccoli instead.)
100ml of olive oil
6 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
2 red chillies, de-seeded and sliced
Salt and pepper
Juice of 1 lemon

Separate the broccoli into small florets.

Bring a large saucepan of cold water to the boil and cook the broccoli for 1 minute. Drain and rinse under cold water, until completely cold. Pat dry with kitchen paper and place in the fridge to cool further.

Heat half of the olive oil in a large frying pan and cook the garlic and chillies for a few minutes until the garlic starts to soften and then set aside with the cooking oil.

Toss the cold broccoli in a bowl with the remaining olive oil and plenty of salt and pepper.

Heat up a heavy frying pan until hot and chargrill the broccoli florets, until nicely charred in parts. Place them in the bowl and toss with the lemon juice and the garlic and chilli oil.



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Harissa spiced lamb with cannellini beans

On Monday I had the lovely Phil over for some dinner and Doctor Who. (We opted for episodes 1-4 of the Pertwee barnstormer The Mind of Evil, and will reconvene next week for episode 5 & 6) I had a bit of a potter around on the BBC website and found this recipe. I fancied some lamb, having cooked both pork and chicken over the weekend, and I know Phil likes spicy food, so this seemed an ideal choice. It was too – very tasty. I shall certainly cook it again.

Serves 4

4 tablespoons of olive oil
2 tablespoons of ground cumin
2 tablespoons of ground coriander
1kg of lamb neck fillet, trimmed and cut into small pieces
1 inch piece of fresh root ginger, finely grated
2 onions, thinly sliced
250ml of dry white wine
400g tin of chopped tomatoes
2 tablespoons of tomato purée
2 tablespoons of clear honey
1½ tablespoons of harissa paste
½ lemon, juice and finely grated rind only
400g tin of cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 160.

Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large saucepan.

Sprinkle the cumin and coriander over the lamb pieces and fry, in two batches if necessary, for about 5 minutes or until browned. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.

Pour the remaining oil into the pan, add the ginger and onions and fry over a medium high heat for 10 minutes until soft.

Pour in the wine and boil for 2–3 minutes, stirring and scraping the bottom of the pan to incorporate all the caramelised meaty bits.

Add all the remaining ingredients, except the beans, and stir well, then return the lamb to the pan, season with salt and pepper and bring to the boil.

Transfer to a lidded casserole dish and cook in the oven for 1 hour 15 minutes.

Stir in the beans and return to the oven to cook for a further 15 minutes, or until the lamb is tender.

I have to confess that the photo doesn’t look that much different from the pork stew that I’ve just blogged, but I can assure you that the end result was very different in flavour. The spiciness of the harissa made the resulting stew lovely and flavoursome and warming.


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Pork, lentil and chorizo stew

I made this for myself last Friday evening and had enough left over to provide myself with a tasty lunch for work on Monday as well. It’s easy to do – I just cobbled it together from a few trusted ingredients.

Serves 1-2

2 tablespoons of olive oil
300g of pork tenderloin, trimmed of fat and chopped into bite-sized pieces
50-70g of chorizo, skinned and roughly chopped
1 brown onion, peeled and half thickly sliced, half chopped
2 fat garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
½ a red pepper, de-seeded and sliced
½ a green pepper, de-seeded and sliced
1 leek, sliced
400g tin of green lentils, drained and rinsed
440g tin of chopped tomatoes
2 teaspoons of fresh thyme leaves
50ml of dry white wine
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
A dash of angostura bitters
250ml of chicken stock

Heat the olive oil in a large sauce pan over a medium heat.

Gently fry the onions and until starting to soften. Add the garlic and leek and fry for a further minute.

Increase the heat, add the pork pieces and cook until nicely browned all over.

Push the pork and onions to one side and add the chopped chorizo, frying quickly, until they start to release the distinctive orange oil and start to go crispy.

Stir well to combine the ingredients and then add the sliced red and green pepper. Fry for a couple of minutes, until just starting to soften, then sprinkle over the thyme leaves and season well with salt and black pepper.

Add the white wine and use it to deglaze the base of the pan. Then add the chopped tomatoes, chicken stock and angostura bitters.

Bring to the boil, and then stir, lower the heat, cover and simmer for 25-30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

After 30 minutes add in the lentils, stir well to combine, re-cover and continue to cook for another 20 minutes, until the sauce had thickened and everything is cooked through.

Serve immediately with some thick crusty bread.


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Pork chops with creamy bacon cabbage and smoky potatoes

I had the lovely Fig over on Tuesday for our usual fortnightly bout of zombies. I didn’t get the chance to flick through my cookbooks and so spent some time footling about on the BBC website and found this recipe. Pork chops are always welcome and the creamy bacon cabbage seemed like a nice idea so I decided to go for it. The original recipe serves four with one pork chop each, I opted for keeping all the amounts the same but having two chops each!

Serves 4 (or 2)

For the pork chops:
4 pork chops
2 tablespoons of olive oil
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon of brandy

For the smoky potatoes:
2 baking potatoes, peeled and diced into 1inch cubes
4 tablespoons of olive oil
1-2 tablespoons of butter
1 tablespoon of smoked paprika

For the creamy bacon cabbage:
300g of smoked bacon lardons
1 head Savoy cabbage, shredded
125ml of double cream

Pre-heat the oven to 200. (I decided, because I only have a couple of decent frying pans, to brown the chops in a frying pan but then actually cook them in the oven.)

Par-boil the diced potato in lightly salted boiling water for 5 minutes or so until just tender. Drain and set aside.

Parboil the shredded cabbage in boiling water for 3 minutes or so, until just starting to become tender. Drain and then refresh with cold water.

Snip vertical cuts in the pork chop fat at 1inch intervals to stop the chops curling up when cooking.

Rub the chops with the oil and season well with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Heat a frying pan until hot and brown the pork chops for about a minute on each side, or until cooked through. Add one tablespoon of brandy to the pan, light it with a match and flambé until the flames die out. Transfer to a baking tray lined with foil and roast in the oven for 12-15 minutes until cooked through. (bend the foil slightly over the chops to keep them moist during cooking.

In a large frying pan, heat the olive oil until hot and fry the par-boiled potatoes for 8 minutes or so, until crispy and golden.

In another pan, heat some more olive oil and fry the bacon lardons in a frying pan until crisp. Add the shredded and blanched cabbage to heat through before adding the cream. Mix well to coat the cabbage and bacon with the cream.

Once the potatoes are cooked place them in a bowl, add the butter and paprika and stir well to ensure that the potatoes are completely coated.

Serve the cabbage, topped with the chops and with the paprika coated potatoes on the side.

Very tasty!


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Ginger beef with yellow peppers

I got back from seeing my family in Devon on Monday afternoon and I wanted something quick and tasty to cook and so I flicked through my Wok and Stir-Fry cookbook and found this recipe. I like a beef stir-fry and the gingery flavour appealed so I decided to go for it.

It’s quick, easy to do and tasty, with some lovely flavours. I swapped the baby corn for sugarsnap peas as a) I had some in the fridge and b) I’m not that keen on baby corn anyway. I also popped in some red pepper as well as the yellow as, again, I had some in the fridge that needed using up.

Serves 4

500g of beef fillet
2 teaspoons of groundnut oil
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 tablespoons of grated fresh ginger
A pinch of chilli flakes
2 yellow peppers, de-seeded and thinly sliced
125g of baby corn
175g of mangetout

Noodles to serve

For the marinade:

2 tablespoons of soy sauce
2 teaspoons of groundnut oil
1½ teaspoons of caster sugar
1 teaspoon of cornflour

Mix the marinade ingredients together in a small bowl, stir in the beef, then cover with clingfilm and set aside, to marinate, for 30 minutes.

Heat the wok over a medium-high heat, then add the oil. Add the garlic, ginger and chilli flakes and cook for 30 seconds.

Stir in the yellow peppers and baby corn and stir fry for 2-3 minutes. Add the mangetout and cook for a further minute.

Remove the vegetables from the wok and add the beef and marinade to the wok and stir-fry for 3-4 minutes, until cooked to taste. Return the vegetables to the wok, mix well and cook until all the ingredients are heated through.

Serve with the cooked noodles.



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Roasted pork fillet with chorizo and pepper sauce

I had the lovely Figgy over for dinner and zombies last night and so poked around on the BBC Food website until I found this tasty little recipe. Very nice. I coupled it with a mash containing sautéed kale and leek, and some steamed broccoli.

The recipe is tasty and quick and easy to do. I’ll certainly cook this one again.

Serves 2

For the pork:
400g pork fillet, fully trimmed (I used a piece of pork tenderloin)
1 tablespoon of pimenton (or smoked paprika)
2 tablespoons of olive oil
salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the sauce:
2 tablespoons of olive oil
½ a brown onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 tablespoons of fresh rosemary, finely chopped
200g chorizo, peeled and finely chopped
1 tablespoon of pimenton (or smoked paprika)
150g of white Spanish beans (I used cannellini beans and they seemed to work fine)
150g of roasted red peppers, chopped
150ml of double cream
A dash of red wine

For the pork, preheat the oven to 200

Season the pork fillet with the pimenton, salt and freshly ground black pepper.

In a frying pan, heat the olive oil until hot, add the pork fillet and sear until golden-brown on all sides (about 30-45 seconds on each side).

Transfer to a roasting dish and roast in the oven for 10-15 minutes. (The recipe said 6-8 minutes but my piece of pork was quite thick so I increased the cooking time. And it was still a little pink in the middle even with the increased time.)

Remove from the oven and rest for 5 minutes in the pan before serving.

To make the sauce, heat the oil in a saucepan, add the onion, garlic, rosemary and chorizo. Cook over a medium heat until the chorizo is crisp and has released its oil.

Add a dash of red wine to deglaze the bottom of the pan, stirring well.

Add the pimenton, beans and peppers and cook for a 2-3 minutes.

Then add the cream, stir in well and cook until the volume of the sauce has reduced by half.

To serve, divide the sauce between two plates. Cut the pork into slices and divide it between the two plates, laying it on top of the sauce.


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Avocado chips

I made these about a week ago but I then forgot to blog about them. Ooops. They’re an alternative to potato chips and whilst they are nice they are a little bland – I guess avocado doesn’t have a huge amount of flavour. Alberto suggested marinating the avocado slices in chilli and lime juice before coating them – that might work. I’ll try that next time!

They’re quite simple to make, although the dipping in flour, egg and breadcrumbs is, as you might expect, quite messy.

Serves 1 (makes about 10 chips)

1 avocado, cut into thick slices
1 plate of flour
1 egg, beaten
Panko breadcrumbs (It always takes more than you think it will!)
Salt and pepper
Spray oil for cooking

Pre-heat the oven to 200

Peel the avocado and cut it into thick slices.

Season the plate of flour well with salt and pepper.

Dip each slice first in flour, then in egg and then, finally in the Panko breadcrumbs, ensuring the each slices is well coated in the crumbs.

Spray a baking tray with cooking oil and then lay the crumbed slices on the tray. Spray the slices with oil, then place in the oven and bake for 10-15 minutes, until crispy and golden.

They are nice – crispy on the outside and creamy on the inside – they’re just not bursting with flavour. Still, next time I’ll marinate them!


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Baked eggs with lamb, feta, harissa, tomato sauce and coriander

I had the lovely Abigail over last night for episodes 2-5 of The Ice Warriors and a spot of dinner. I had a flick through some of my cookbooks and found this rather tasty recipe in the book Persiana by Sabrina Ghayour. The recipe as written is a breakfast dish but can be scaled up for a main dish, and is purely vegetarian. I soon sorted that by adding some lamb mince.🙂 I also upped the vegetable level by adding some diced aubergine.

I love the Spanish recipe Huevos a la Flamenca, which I cook quite often, and this is a nice, Middle Eastern variation. I shall certainly be cooking it again.

Serves 2
4 tablespoons of olive oil
500g of lamb mince
1 medium aubergine, diced
3 garlic cloves, bashed and thinly sliced
2 large red onions, cut in half and sliced into 1cm thick half moons
2 teaspoons of turmeric
1 teaspoons of ground coriander
1 teaspoons of ground cumin
½ a teaspoons of ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons of harissa
2 beef tomatoes, roughly chopped
440ml tin of chopped tomatoes#
Sea Salt
A bunch of coriander leaves, roughly chopped
200g of feta cheese
2 large eggs

Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat. Sauté the onion and garlic until they start to soften. Add the turmeric, coriander, cumin and cinnamon and stir well.

Add the lamb mince, breaking up any lumps with the back of a wooden spoon and cook until well browned all over, stirring well to ensure that the lamb is well coated with the spices. Add the aubergine and lightly brown.

Add the harissa paste and stir well to combine.

Add the chopped fresh tomatoes and tinned tomatoes and stir well to combine. (I chucked in a dash of white wine at this point too.) Season well, bring to a simmer. Then simmer for 20 minutes or so, until the sauce has thickened a little and everything is well cooked through.

Pre-heat the over to 180.

Transfer the tomato and meat sauce to a large baking dish.

Scatter the chopped coriander over the top. Then crumble over the feta, poking some of the pieces down under the surface of the sauce.

Make two indentations in the surface of the sauce with the back of a tablespoon and then crack an egg into each indentation.

Bake in the oven for 10-14 minutes until the eggs are set.

Serve immediately.


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Greek Chicken Stew With Cauliflower and Olives

Last night I had the lovely Fig over for our regular Tuesday evening shenanigans. Instead of our usual Doctor Who or zombies we spent most of the evening watching episodes and clips from kitsch 1970s and ’80s television programmes mostly featuring the superlative Hinge and Bracket and the wonderful Beryl Reid. We did finish off with an episode of The Walking Dead though.

Anyway, I saw this recipe being talked about by friends on Facebook so I decided to follow the link and give it a go. It’s a tasty little recipe with some interesting flavours. I’m not a big fan of olives but the flavour works rather well with the other flavours in the stew. I always associate cinnamon more with Moroccan cooking rather than Greek but it works well and the feta crumbled on top certainly gives it a Greek feel.

In a couple of small changes to the recipe I added a couple of dashes of white wine (partly to deglaze the pan after frying the chicken and onions.) I also roasted the cauliflower for 10 minutes or so before adding to the stew.

Serves 4

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large red onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves crushed
6 to 8 chicken thighs, skinned (I used thigh fillets rather than thighs on the bone. That worked well.)
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1-2 440ml cans of chopped tomatoes (I also added a little of the passata I had left over from Monday’s dinner, just to thicken the sauce a little.)
½ a teaspoon cinnamon
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
1 small or ½ a large cauliflower, broken into florets, and sliced about ½ inch thick
12 kalamata olives, rinsed, pitted and cut in half
1-2 tablespoons of chopped flat-leaf parsley
60g of feta cheese, crumbled

Heat the oven to 200.

Place the sliced cauliflower on a baking tray, drizzle lightly with olive oil and roast in the oven for 10 minutes or so, until just starting to colour and become tender. Remove from the oven and set aside.

Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil over medium-high heat in a large saucepan and brown the chicken, for about 5 minutes on each side. (if using chopped chicken thigh fillets, then just brown them nicely all over.) Remove the pieces to a plate or bowl as they’re browned. Pour off the fat from the pan.

Add the vinegar to the pan and scrape up all the bits from the bottom of the pan.

Add the remaining tablespoon of the olive oil to the pan, and turn the heat down to medium. Add the onion and a generous pinch of salt and cook, stirring often and scraping the bottom of the pan, until it begins to soften. (I also added a couple of dashes of white wine to help deglaze the pan.)

Turn the heat to low, cover and let the onion cook for for 5-10 minutes, stirring from time to time, until it is lightly browned and very soft.

Add the garlic and stir together for a minute or two more, until the garlic is fragrant, then add the tomatoes, the cinnamon, thyme, passata if using, and salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a simmer and simmer 10 minutes, stirring from time to time, until the mixture is reduced slightly.

Return the chicken pieces to the pot, along with any juices that have accumulated in the bowl. If necessary, add enough water to barely cover the chicken. Bring to a simmer, reduce the heat, cover and simmer 20 minutes.

Add the roasted cauliflower and kalamata olives and simmer for another 20 minutes, or until the cauliflower is tender and the chicken is just about falling off the bone.

Stir in the parsley, and seasoning if required. Serve with the feta sprinkled on top.



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