Beef and apple tajine

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After last Easter’s lamb tajine cook off, it seemed right to give it a try to a different kind of meat,  now that Winter is on its way. For the same price, Si and Dave, on their Hairy Bikers version,  also got an opportunity redeem themselves from the least favourite tajine of the cook off.  It is slow food at it very slowest food. But, the result is a pure comfort food, packed with different flavours and textures, with sweet and spice notes.  Perfect for a cold Winter day… A word of warning, though:  it is a very heavy and filling dish. Most likely, it is also a caloric bomb…

Beef and apple tajine  (adapted from a recipe by Hairy Bikers found in BBC Goodfood)

Ingredients

  • 750g of  braising steak
  • 4 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 2 onions, halved and sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp hot chilli powder
  • 400g can chopped tomatoes
  • 400g can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 3 tbsp clear honey
  • 1 beef stock cube
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 medium sweet potato (around 400g)
  • 2 large apples
  • 25g bunch fresh coriander
  • 75g no-soak dried prunes, halved
  • flaked sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • For the garnish
  • 1 large red-skinned  apple
  • 15g butter
  • 1 tbsp clear honey

Method

If not using a tajine, preheat the oven to 180oC.

Trim the beef of any hard fat and cut into roughly 3cm chunks. Season all over with salt and pepper.

Heat one tablespoon of the oil in the tagine (or in a large non-stick frying pan, you are not using the tajine). Fry the beef in three batches over a high heat until lightly browned on all sides, adding a little more oil to the pan when needed.  Reserve or transfer each batch to a large flameproof casserole once browned.

Reduce the heat and add two tablespoons more oil to the tajine (or the frying pan). Fry the onions for five minutes, or until softened and lightly coloured, stirring regularly. Add the garlic and sprinkle with the cumin, coriander and chilli powder. Cook for 1-2 minutes more, stirring constantly.

Put the brown meat back to the tajine (or tip the onions and spices into the casserole with the beef). Add about 50ml of cold water to the tagine and mix well to lift the sediment from the bottom. In case you are not using the tajine, add 150mL of water to the frying pan and stir until the sediment is gone. Pour the water into the casserole.

Add about 150mL of water, the tomatoes and chickpeas to the casserole and stir in the honey. Crumble the stock cube over the top, add the cinnamon stick and stir well. Bring to a simmer on the hob, stirring a couple of times. Cover with the tajine and let cook for about 1½ hours. In case you are not using a tajine, you will have to use a bit more water (about 350mL), let it boil. Then cover the dish with a lid, transfer to the oven and cook for 1½ hours.

Ten minutes before the time is up, peel the sweet potato and cut into roughly 2.5cm chunks. Peel the apples, cut into quarters and remove the cores. Cut the apples into 2cm chunks. Trim the coriander and roughly chop half of the leaves.

If you are not using the tajine, carefully take the casserole out of the oven and remove the lid. Stir in the sweet potato, apples, prunes and chopped coriander. Cover once more and return to the oven. If you are using a tajine, just add the remaining ingredients and give it a good stir. In both cases,  cook for a further 45-60 minutes, or until the beef is very tender.

To make the garnish, cut the apple into quarters and remove the core. Slice each apple quarter lengthways into five. Season with ground black pepper. Melt the butter in a large non-stick frying pan and fry the apple slices over a high heat for 3-4 minutes, or until lightly browned, turning occasionally. Remove from the heat, drizzle with the honey and toss lightly.

Scatter the fried apples over the tajine in the casserole, scatter with roughly chopped coriander and serve.

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Cottage pie

light cottage pie

 

I could be writing about lovely Spring dishes, with plenty of asparagus, rhubarb and green stuff all around. But not – cottage pie it is. No Spring, no Spring food. Anyway, it is either this or start a monumental rant about the weather on Facebook… The pie itself, is delicious, warming and comforting.

Cottage pie (adapted from Dave Myers and Si King’s The Hairy Dieters: How to Love Food and Lose Weight)

Ingredients

Filling

  • 400g of lean minced beef
  • 2 medium onions, chopped
  • 2 celery sticks, finely sliced
  • 2 medium carrots, diced
  • 400g can of chopped tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoon of tomato purée
  • 500mL beefstock, made with 1 beef stock cube
  • 1 tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon dried mixed herbs
  • 1 teaspoon cornflour
  • 1 tablespoon cold water
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper

Leeky potato topping

  • 750g of floury potatoes
  • 2 teaspoons of olive oil
  • 2 slender leeks, timed and cut into 1cm slices
  • 150mL of low fat milk
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper

Method 

Place a large non stick sauce pan or casserole dish over a medium heat. No need to add olive oil – it is a non stick pan, after all. Put in the minced meat and cook it  together with the onions, celery and carrots for about 10min, until lightly coloured. Use a couple of wooden spoons to break up the meat as it cooks

Stir in the tomatoes, the tomato purée, the beef stock, the Worcestershire sauce and the mixed herbs. Season with a generous pinch of  salt and plenty of freshly ground black pepper. Bring to the boil and then reduce the heat. Cover loosely and simmer gently for about 40min, stirring occasionally until the meat is tender.

You can start preparing the potato topping. Peel the potatoes and cut them into rough 4cm chunks. Put them in a large saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring to the boil, then down the heat slightly and simmer for 18-20min or until the potatoes are very tender. Heat the oil in a non stick frying pan and fry the leeks for 5min until softened but not coloured, stirring often. Drain the potatoes, then tip them back into the pan, season to taste and mash with the milk (and a little butter) until smooth. Stir in the sautéed leeks and set aside.

Preheat the oven to 220oC. When the beef has been simmering for 40min, mix the cornflour with the cold flour to make a smooth paste. Stir this into the beef and cook for another 1-2min or until the sauce is thickened, stirring often.

Poor the beef mixture into a 2-liter shallow ovenproof dish. Using a large spoon, top the beef with the mash potatoes and leeks. Spoon the mixture all around the edge of the dish before heading into the middle, then fluff it up with a fork.

Bake for 30min until the topping is golden and the filling is bubbling.


Rich beef and ale casserole with leeks and potato mash

guiness beef stew and mash potatoes ok

The calendar claims Spring will be here in a few days, but the weather man (and the knees) say otherwise.  As snow starts falling again, it seems Winter will be here forever.  It is definitely time for another comforting stew…. Believe it or not, each portion has less than 500 calories.

Rich beef and ale casserole with mash potato (adapted from Dave Myers and Si King’s The Hairy Dieters: How to Love Food and Lose Weight)

Ingredients 

Beef stew 

  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  • 2 medium onions chopped
  • 4 tablespoons flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons mixed herbs
  • 1 kg lean braising beef, trimmed from hard fat and cut in 3cm chunks
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 500 mL of dark ale or stout
  • 250 mL of beef stock
  • 2 tablespoons tomato puréee
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 5 carrots (about 275g), peeled and thickly sliced
  • 2 parsnips (about 300g) peeled, halved lengthways and sliced
  • freshly ground black pepper

Leeky potato mash

  • 750g floury potato, peeled and cut in 4cm chunks
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 leeks thinly sliced
  • 100 mL low fat milk
  • Salt and pepper

Method

Beef stew 

Preheat the oven to 180oC

Put the flour and dried herbs in a large bowl. Season with salt and lots of freshly ground pepper. Fold in the beef chunks and toss in until they evenly coated.

Heat the oil in a oven- and flame- proof casserole dish.When the oil is pipping hot, drop in the onions and season then with salt and pepper. Fry them over medium heat until they are lightly browned (about 5min).

Tip in the beef and mix until coated.

Add the bay leaf, ale, stock, tomato purée and sugar. Stir well and bring to boil. Cover with the lid.

Transfer the casserole from to the oven and cook for 1 1/2 hours. At the end of this time,  take the casserole out of the oven and stir in the parsnips and carrots. Put the lid again, and return to the over for about 45min until the vegetables are tender.

Leeky potato mash

Put the potato chunks in  a large sauce pan and cover them with cold water. Bring to a boil. Then reduce the heat and let boil for about 20min, until the potatoes are very tender.

In the meanwhile, put the oil in a frying pan and heat. When is hot, drop in the sliced leeks and sautée until soft and tender, stirring often.

Drain the potatoes, and put them back in the sauce pan. Season with salt and pepper and mash with the milk until smooth.

Stir in the sautéeed leeks. Mix until they are well incorporated.


Meatballs in rich tomato sauce

A few weeks ago, I posted the watered down light version of this dish. A dinner party loosely inspired in Spanish cuisine prompted me to do the actual thing, with all its condiments, red wine and olive oil. Mind you, for extra slow-home-made-cooking points, the meatballs were rolled by hand with all love and care by T. and myself. It seemed like a lot of food, but at the end all it was left was the meatballs used for this snapshot. And, I had to hide it in a dark corner of my fridge.

Meatballs in rich tomato sauce (adapted from Carlos Horrillo and Patrick Morcas’ Tapas: Simple Flavours, Striking Combinations)

Ingredients 

For the meatballs

  • 650g of minced pork and beef
  • 2 pinches of very finely chopped fresh rosemary, thyme, mint, basil, tarragon, coriander and oregano.
  • 1large egg
  • small yellow onion, finely diced
  • 1 red chili, finely chopped (or to taste)
  • 300g fresh breadcrumbs
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Enough olive oil to coat the baking tray

For the tomato sauce

  • Olive oil
  • 1 small yellow onion finely chopped
  • 1 medium carrot, peeled and finely sliced
  • 1 stick celery, finely diced
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 70mL ruby Port
  • 250mL red wine
  • 3 cans of 400g-chopped plum tomatoes
  • 10 fresh basil leaves
  • 2 bay leaves

Method

1. Preheat the oven to 180 oC.

2. Put all the meatball ingredients in a large bowl, and season all the salt and pepper. Combine with your hands until you have a consistent mixture which allows you to form the meatball.

3. Start rolling the meatballs with your hands.

4. Put a generous amount of olive oil in baking tray

5. Drop in the meatball, stirring them to coat them evenly.

6. Put the tray in the oven for 30min, or until the meatballs are all golden brown. Do not forget to stir them occasionally to cook them in all directions.

7.While waiting for the meatball, start the tomato sauce. Place a large, deep sided saucepan on a low heat and pour in enough olive oil to coat the bottom. Add the  sliced vegetables and season with salt and pepper. Fry gently until they are soft and start to color.

8. Poor in both wines, and bring to boil.

9.When the wine is boiling and has reduced to half the volume, drop in the tomatoes. Season again, and bring to boil, stirring at all times.

10. Turn the heat to low and let simmer for about 15min.

11. Once the meatballs are cooked, fold them in the tomato sauce. Let it simmer for 10min more. (in reality, what I did was to do the tomato sauce and the meatballs  in advance. On the day of the party, I combined them both while cold. Then, I slowly warm them. It actually tastes better, as the flavors combine and develop).


Baked stuffed zucchini

Another recipe with minimal verbiage. I happened to have all these ingredients in the fridge. A few google searches after, I found this baked stuffed zucchini  on All Recipes. A few tweaks after, dinner was served.

Baked stuffed zucchini 

Ingredients

  • 4 large zucchini
  • 2 firm tomatoes, seeded and chopped
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 2 tbsp dried mint (fresh mint would have been better, but I had none left)
  • 450g g minced meet (pork and beef)
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 250g tomato sauce (I used tomatada, but  passata or a lightly diluted tomato sauce could also work well)
  • 1 spring chopped fresh rosemary
  • 4 tbsp Grana Padano or Parmesan
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
Method
Preheat the oven to 190°C (gas 5). Cut each zucchini  in half lengthways and scoop out the pulpy centre with a teaspoon, leaving an outside shell, 1cm thick. Reserve the pulp, and chop lightly.

Place the zucchini in a shallow baking dish or roasting tin, cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes or until tender – they should pierce easily with a fork.

Mix the eggs with the chopped plum tomatoes, mint,  and pepper to season. Set aside.

Fry the minced meat over a medium heat until browned. Add the onion and garlic, cook for a further 5 minutes until the onion has softened. Stir in the tomato sauce,  reserved zucchini pulp and rosemary. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer gently for 10–15 minutes. Stir in the egg mixture and mix together.

5. Spoon the stuffing mixture into the zucchini boats and sprinkle with the cheese. Bake for 15–20 minutes until golden and crispy on top. Serve immediately.


Beef stew with sweet carrots, peas and mushrooms

No use to fight Autumn anymore – it is arrived and is here to stay until Winter shows up. It is now time to start cooking food that makes you forget the cold outside and puts a note of color in your day.

Beef stew with sweet carrots, peas and mushrooms

Ingredients

  • 450g of beef, cut in cubes
  • 50g of flour (or maizena)
  • 250g of button mushrooms
  • 3 onions, cut in half moons
  • 5 carrots, cut in 2cm slices
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 100ml of red wine
  • 1 spring of rosemary
  • 200ml of stock
  • 250g of peas (I used frozen peas)
  • olive oil as required
  • salt and pepper to taste

Method

In a frying pan, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil until it shimmer. Toss the mushrooms. Let them fry until soft and fragrant. Reserve.

Place the beef cubes and flour in a bowl, season with salt and pepper and toss to coat. Shake off the excess of flour. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large frying pan over a high heat until it shimmer. Add half the floured meat and fry until sealed and meat has begun to brown. Be careful not too put too many pieces in the frying pan. Instead of frying, the meat will boil to death, with rather unpleasant results. Reserve the meat.

To the same frying pan, add the onion and the carrots.  Pan fry until the onions are caramelised and the carrots are soft, stirring occasionally  (It will take about 15minutes). Add the grounded garlic and let it combine with the vegetables, stirring for about 1 minute. Take all out of the frying pan and reserve. Pour in the pan approximately 100 mL of red wine stir well to combine and deglaze the frying pan. When the sauce starts to thicken, toss in the meat and reserved vegetables. Mix well to combine, and then add the vegetable stock. Add the bay leave and the rosemary spring.

When it comes to boil, toss the peas in and let simmer for about 15min, until the stock reduces to half and the sauce is a bit thick. Take out from the stove and let it rest for a bit.


Beef stew with mushrooms and vegetables

A dish with no history and minimal verbiage. I happened to have all these veggies in the fridge and Mr Caramelised brought home a cut of beef that screamed for stew. Forty-five minutes later, dinner was served.

Beef stew with mushrooms and vegetables 

Ingredients

  • 3-4 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 2 yellow onions, cut in half-moon slices.
  • 1 garlic clove, grounded
  • 250g of button mushrooms (Agaricus bisporus), sliced
  • 2 red peppers deseeded and sliced in fine strips
  • 3 zucchini (=courgette) cut in slices
  • 500g of stew beef cut in cubes
  • 50g of flour or Maizena
  • 100ml red wine
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 thyme springs
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 250ml of vegetable stock

Method

In a frying pan, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil until it shimmer. Toss the mushrooms. Let them fry until soft and fragrant. Reserve.

Clean the frying pan with a kitchen paper, put more olive oil and heat it until it shimer. Put the red pepper in, and let it fry until soft. Finally, add the courgette in the pan, and let it fry for a few minutes until soft . Reserve  courgette and red peppers, together with the mushrooms.

In the meanwhile, place beef cubes and flour in a bowl, season with salt and pepper and toss to coat. Shake off excess flour. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large frying pan over a high heat until it shimmer.  Add half the floured meat and fry until sealed and meat has begun to brown. Be careful not too put too many pieces in the frying pan. Instead of frying, the meat will boil to death, with rather unpleasant results. Reserve the meat.

In the same frying pan, put the onion and fry until caramelised, stirring occasionally (it must be soft and translucent. It will take about 15minutes). Add the grounded garlic and the reserved flour and panfry, stirring, for 1 minute. Pour in approximately 100mL of red wine stir well to combine and deglaze the frying pan. When the sauce starts to thicken, toss in the meat and reserved vegetables. Mix well to combine, and then add the vegetable stock. Add the bay leave and the thyme.

Let simmer for about 15min, until the stock reduces to half and the sauce is a bit thick. Take out from the stove and let it rest for a bit.