Sunday, 29 November 2009

Warming Winter Casserole

Returning from the kitchen garden this morning with cold hands and a selection of root vegetables my thoughts turned to the lovely stewing beef I had in the 'fridge. Beautiful beef marbled with just enough fat to make it tasty and moist from our very local butcher, fresh as the morning root vegetables, and the prospect of a chilly Winter's evening can mean only one thing - a heart-warming beef casserole served with creamed celeriac and potatoes and buttered cabbage.

As this recipe is slow cooked over many hours you can (and should) use cheaper cuts of meat - ask your butcher for some recommendations.

Winter Beef Casserole

Serves 4
1lb stewing beef
2 ozs plain flour
1 tsp mustard powder
1/2 tsp Spanish paprika
salt and pepper
1 large onion, chopped
2 HG garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
1 HG leek, washed and sliced
6 small HG turnips, washed, peeled and cut into chunks (or left whole if very small)
About a quarter of a large HG celeriac, diced (the remainder of the celeriac will be used along with some potatoes to make a creamed celeriac and potato side dish)
15 fl ozs beef stock
5 fl ozs red wine
1 tblsp Worcestershire sauce

Heat some rapeseed oil in a large frying pan add the onions, leek and garlic and fry gently until softened, not browned. Add the turnips and celeriac and heat through.

Meanwhile mix the flour, mustard powder, paprika, salt and pepper in a bowl. Add the chunks of beef and cover in the flour, stack on a plate ready to cook.

Remove the vegetables from the pan and place in the slow cooker pot. Add more oil to the frying pan and brown the meat in batches, adding the beef to the slow cooker as each batch is browned.

When all the beef has been browned add the red wine to the frying pan and bring to the boil. Boil vigorously until the alcohol has boiled off (you can tell by the smell of the boiling liquid). Add the beef stock and Worcestershire sauce to the wine and bring back to the boil.

Add the liquid and 3 bay leaves to the slow cooker ensuring that the beef and vegetables are covered by the stock, if necessary adding some water.

Cook in the slow cooker on a medium setting for about 6-8 hours. Alternatively you can cook in a conventional oven on a low setting 140C for about 3 hours. Check the level of the liquid in the dish throughout the cooking time.

Friday, 20 November 2009

Wedding Cake Marzipan

It's almost time to tackle the next stage of the wedding cake challenge - marzipan.

I've opted for a white marzipan rather than the usual golden colour and I am reading through the application techniques on various websites - can you tell I'm a bit nervous about this? After all it's only my elder son's and future DIL's wedding cake - arrgh! Wonder how they would feel about standing in front of it and obscuring it from view for the cutting the cake photos?

I may or may not post a photograph when I've finished the marzipaning - let's see how traumatised I am by the time I've completed this stage. Heaven knows how I'll get through the icing challenge - more on that in December.

Friday, 6 November 2009

Remember, remember...

the fifth of November
gunpowder, treason and plot.

Or in this case the 6th of November...we have set the bonfire, placed lighting around the garden and prepared the food:
  1. Carrot and Butternut Squash Soup
  2. Vegetarian and Sausage Rolls with Chutneys
  3. Spicy Bread and Apple Pudding with Custard or Cream
All that's left to do is make the warming Winter Punch to welcome our guests...whilst the Handyman gets the bonfire going.

Thursday, 5 November 2009

Favourite Food and Future Happiness

Last weekend I had the pleasure of attending my future daughter-in-law's 'hen' party with my sister JA. It was organised by her Mum at a spa hotel and the theme, as it was Halloween, was Kinky Witches - hence the witches' hats in the photograph. The location, treatments, facilities, food and company were excellent and a good time was had by all - and everyone made it to breakfast the next day!

As part of the event K was asked to answer some Mr & Mrs type questions, one of which was about G's favourite food; a question which K answered immediately and correctly and an answer that reminded me of when G was a little lad...aah!

So here follows a simple supper dish that is one of the keys to my son's heart...

My Granny Bet's Macaroni Cheese
Serves 2-3
6 ozs pasta - macaroni or penne
3 pts boiling water

3/4 pt semi-skimmed milk
2 rounded tbsp plain flour
1 level tsp mustard powder
salt and pepper
6 ozs strong Cheddar cheese, grated

Optional Extras - not part of the original recipe
2-3 rashers smoked back bacon, cut into small pieces
2 large mushrooms, sliced

Bring the water to a rolling boil in a large saucepan then add the salt and the pasta. Stir the pasta into the water and bring back to a fast boil and cook for 10 minutes. Drain the pasta and run under cold water. Put the pasta to one side and make the cheese sauce.

Whilst the pasta is cooking, fry the bacon until golden. Then add the mushrooms and fry until cooked. Drain and set to one side.

Put the flour, mustard powder and salt and pepper into a saucepan. Add enough milk to make a smooth paste. Add the remaining milk gradually, ensuring that the sauce remain free of lumps. Put the pan on to the heat and bring to the boil stirring continuously. Once boiling reduce the heat and leave to simmer for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove the sauce from the heat and add about 4 ozs of the grated cheese, stir into the sauce.

Add the pasta and, if using, the bacon and mushroom mix, to the sauce and stir well to ensure all the pasta is covered with the lovely sauce. Pour into a pie dish and sprinkle with the remaining Cheddar. Bake at 200C for about 20 minutes or until the sauce bubbles and the cheese on the top is nicely browned. Serve with a fresh green salad and some garlic bread.
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