Ropa Vieja and Bienmesabe

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Today has been quite possibly one of the coldest days of the winter so far; a cold-to-the-bone kind of cold when it takes an hour in a hot bath to thaw out. In the depths of winter, I can’t help but dream about summer holidays in warmer climes…

When Monarch Holidays invited me to recreate some traditional Spanish recipes for their new online Island Cookbook, I thought it was a perfect opportunity to feed my craving for sunshine food and cheer up these dark, dank days. I took my inspiration from the third largest of the Canary Islands, Gran Canaria, where I have fond memories of holidaying with my family as a teenager Continue reading “Ropa Vieja and Bienmesabe”

Claudia Roden’s kofte kebabs

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I know I do harp on a bit about cutting down the amount of meat we eat. And yet, while I love vegetarian food, I could never give up meat completely. My blog is called Bangers & Mash for a reason. Plus, it would mean giving up dishes like this. And that’s simply not happening.

This is one of my favourite recipes from one of my favourite cookery writers, Claudia Roden. I met her briefly following a talk she gave at the Bath Literary Festival a few years back when she signed my copy of Arabesque, from which this recipe comes. I talked to her briefly about my blog and she wished me lots of luck with it, although it was clear the concept of blogging was a bit of a mystery to her. And I successfully managed to refrain from telling her how beautiful I think she is. Because she is. But that might have come across just a little too creepy. Continue reading “Claudia Roden’s kofte kebabs”

Chilli beef pasta with Savoy cabbage and caraway for the #OrganicUnboxed Challenge

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Like many of my fellow food bloggers, I’ve been taking part in the #OrganicUnboxed challenge this last few weeks. The idea of the challenge is simple. Organic UK is sending bloggers a big mystery box of organic produce to see what easy, every day dishes they might come up with to inspire more people to switch to organic. In my excitement I failed miserably to get a picture of the organic goodies being unboxed. Which is why I’ve brought you a gratuitous shot of our cat Tango in the box instead. Now, hasn’t that brightened your day? Continue reading “Chilli beef pasta with Savoy cabbage and caraway for the #OrganicUnboxed Challenge”

Guest post from Budget Pantry: Vietnamese ‘Bo Kho’ Minced Meat Noodles

Vietnamese Bo Kho Noodles

I’m thrilled to be handing over the reins of my blog today to the lovely Singapore-based Chris from Budget Pantry. We’ve been partnered up by WORLDFOODS to take part in their International Fusion Recipe Swap Challenge. Today I bring you Chris’ very tempting recipe for Vietnamese ‘Bo Kho’ Minced Meat Noodles, while over on her blog you’ll find my Spicy Beef Cobbler.

So without further ado, I hand you over to Chris… Continue reading “Guest post from Budget Pantry: Vietnamese ‘Bo Kho’ Minced Meat Noodles”

Bobotie spiced beef burgers

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Generally when I make burgers I tend to keep things very simple; just some good quality minced beef, seasoning and perhaps a little chopped onion. But occasionally I fancy a burger that packs a bit more of a flavour punch. This was the mood I found myself in the other day when I was about to make burgers for the barbecue.

Flicking through a few cookbooks for some flavour ideas, I came across a recipe for bobotie, a South Africa favourite, which could be described as a curried meatloaf. I rather liked the sound of beef flavoured with curry spices and fruit chutney. This was the inspiration I needed, and my bobotie spiced burger was born. Fruity and spicy, it was a winner with the whole family, especially the kids who are big fans of dried apricots.

bobotie spiced burgers

I served my bobotie spiced burgers in sesame seed buns with some chargrilled courgettes and red peppers.

Bobotie spiced beef burgers

Makes 6

500g minced beef
1 onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tsp garam masala
1 tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp chilli powder
pinch of nutmeg
8 dried apricots, roughly chopped
salt and pepper

Simply place the minced beef and all the other ingredients in a large bowl and combine well.

Using your hands, form the mixture into six balls and then flatten each one into a thick patty.

Cook the burgers on the barbecue for four to five minutes on each side, until just cooked through and ideally a little pink inside – although you’ll probably want to cook them a little longer for young children or pregnant women. Alternatively cook in a griddle pan or under a grill.

Serve in toasted burger buns with salad and perhaps some chargrilled vegetables.

bobotie spiced burgers

I’m entering my bobotie spiced burger into my very own Spice Trail challenge, where the theme this month is Summer Spice.

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I’m also entering my burgers in the Four Seasons Food challenge hosted by Eat Your Veg and Delicieux where the theme for July is Al Fresco.

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Beef and Guinness pie with vanilla and thyme

beef and guinness pie with vanilla and thyme

When Solange at Pebble Soup suggested vanilla as the theme for this month’s Spice Trail, which she is very kindly guest hosting for me, my mind went into overdrive. I simply had to come up with a way to use this gorgeous spice in a savoury dish. And this deeply dark and delicious beef and Guinness pie is what I came up with.

beef and guinness pie with vanilla and thyme

My husband was the inspiration. He thought vanilla might work well in our favourite braised pig cheek recipe. I’m sure that would be heavenly but, as I’ve only recently featured the dish here on the blog, I couldn’t really go with that again. So the idea of pairing vanilla with slow cooked with meat in a rich, warming sauce evolved instead into this sumptuous beef pie.

Vanilla and Guinness are a genius combination. Soft and rich and ever so slightly sweet, but without being cloying. The vanilla flavour is subtle; just enough sweetness to be warm and comforting. Teamed with tender beef and vegetables – I opted for butternut squash and celery to continue the sweet them and some chestnut mushrooms for texture and a touch of earthiness – and topped with buttery puff pastry, this dish is definitely my idea of foodie bliss.

beef and guinness pie with vanilla and thyme

Beef and Guinness pie with vanilla and thyme

1 tbsp vegetable oil
400g braising beef, cut into bite-size pieces
2 tbsp corn flour
1 red onion, peeled and chopped
250g chestnut mushrooms, quartered
2 celery sticks, sliced
1 small butternut squash, peeled and chopped into bite-size pieces
440ml can Guinness
260ml hot beef stock
large handful fresh thyme, picked
1 vanilla pod
salt and pepper
1 egg, beaten
375g ready rolled puff pastry

Preheat the oven to 180°C / gas mark 4.

Heat the oil in a large casserole and fry the beef until browned on all sides. Stir in the corn flour to coat the meat.

Add the onion, mushrooms, celery, butternut squash, Guinness, beef stock and thyme. Split the vanilla pod lengthways and scoop out the seeds with a spoon. Add the seeds to the pan, along with the pod. Season to taste and give it all a good stir.

Bring it to a gentle simmer. Pop the lid on and place in the oven for at least three hours until the meat is beautifully tender.

Remove the stew from the oven and leave to cool.

Turn up the oven to 200°C / gas mark 6.

Transfer the stew to a ovenproof pie dish (around 2 litre). Brush the edges of the pie dish with a little beaten egg and carefully lay the ready rolled puff pastry over the top of the stew. Knock the edges with the back of a knife so they stick to the dish and trim off the excess pastry.

With a sharp knife, cut a little hole in the middle of the pastry to allow the steam to escape and brush the top with beaten egg.

Bake in the oven for 30-40 minutes, until the top is golden brown.

Serve with vegetables and creamy mashed potato to soak up all that meaty vanilla-flavoured gravy.

beef and guinness pie with vanilla and thyme

I am entering this pie into The Spice Trail, which is of course being hosted this month by Solange over at Pebble Soup, and where the spice theme this month is vanilla.

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And as this pie also contains lots of lovely fresh thyme, I shall also enter it into Cooking with Herbs, hosted by the brilliant Karen at Lavender & Lovage.

cooking with herbs

Spicy chana dal cottage pie

chana dal cottage pie

There are certain dishes I don’t play around with too much. When they’re easy winners with the family, what’s the point of trying to fix something that ain’t broke? Like spaghetti carbonara or bangers and mash. Sometimes simple is best.

Cottage pie had always been one of those kinds of meals for me. Cooked minced beef with onions, maybe a vegetable or two, in gravy and topped with creamy mashed potato. Why would you want to mess with that?

But the problem is I just do have this tendency to play with my food. I was thinking about ways to make cottage pie go further, you see. Since taking part in the Living Below the Line initiative, where we only had £1 a day for food and drink for five days, the cost of food has been on my mind and I keep looking for ways to make things stretch a bit. I always bulk cottage pie out with a few vegetables, so the idea of adding lentils (or in this case chana dal, split and polished chickpeas) seemed the natural next step. Of course, I could have gone completely vegetarian and left out the beef mince but we do rather like meat in our house, and I think it’s useful to have ways to get more meals out of good meat than have to omit it all together.

chana dal

Once I’d decided to add chana dal, it was a natural leap to add some spice, since chana dal is such a popular ingredient in Indian cookery. I added some cumin and mustard seeds to the mince and dal, and then a little turmeric to melted butter before mashing it into the potato. It could so easily have been one of those disastrous experiments but it worked an absolute treat and the whole family seemed to approve. Well, they asked for seconds. Always a good sign.

This is another of those incredibly adaptable dishes. Instead of chana dal, you can use pretty much any kind of lentils or pulses, and throw in whatever vegetables you happen to have in.

chana dal cottage pie

Spicy chana dal cottage pie

This recipe makes two large cottage pies, each yielding 4 to 6 portions. One for supper tonight and another for the freezer – perfect!

200g chana dal
1 tbsp sunflower or vegetable oil
1 large onion, peeled and chopped
½ tsp cumin seeds
½ tsp black mustard seeds
500g minced beef
4 large carrots, peeled and sliced
2 courgettes, halved lengthways and sliced
2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
2 x 400g tins chopped tomatoes
200ml beef stock
salt and pepper
1kg potatoes, peeled and halved or quartered depending on size
50g butter
½ tsp turmeric
200ml milk

Soak the chana dal in cold water for at least an hour, and then drain.

Preheat the oven to 200°C/Gas Mark 6.

Heat the oil in a large pan and fry the onion until soft and golden. Add the cumin and mustard seeds and fry until the release their aroma.

Add the minced beef to the pan and cook for about 5 minutes until browned, stirring frequently. Next add in the carrots, courgettes and garlic and give it all a good mix before stirring in the chana dal, tinned tomatoes and stock.

Leave to simmer gently for 20 minutes or so until the liquid has thickened a little and the vegetables are tender. Taste and season.

Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil and cook the potatoes until just tender, drain, and return to the pan.

Gently melt the butter in a small pan and stir in the turmeric. Pour the yellow butter onto the cooked potatoes, pour in the milk, season with salt and pepper and mash well.

Spoon the meat and chana dal filling into two ovenproof dishes, and then cover with the mashed potato. Cook one in the oven for around 25 minutes until the top is golden. Cool the other one before covering with foil and placing in the freezer for a quick easy dinner another night.

chana dal cottage pie

As this is a great way to make a cottage pie go further, I’m entering it into this month’s Family Foodies challenge where the theme is Cheap & Cheerful.

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I’m also entering it into the Credit Crunch Munch challenge, the brain child of Fab Food 4 All and Fuss Free Flavours, and this month hosted by Gingey Bites.

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Braised oxtail with smoked bacon

oxtail

Other than tinned oxtail soup as a child (which I don’t think really counts), I hadn’t eaten oxtail until just the other week when I got hold of some at my local butcher and decided it was time to try it out on my family.

I’ve been meaning to cooking with it for quite some time but for one reason and another hadn’t got round to it. It’s a wonderfully cheap cut and I’d heard how full flavour and “unctuous” it can be when cooked long and slow – perfect for us as we cook in an Aga.

And I certainly wasn’t disappointed. I turned to that classic Italian cookbook, The Silver Spoon, which I always tend to consult when faced with a new cut of meat, and found a recipe for a slow-cooked oxtail, cooked very simply with soffritto (onion, carrot, celery and garlic), white wine and pancetta, or in my case beef stock and smoked bacon.

The result was truly unctuous. So it might not be the prettiest of plates but it tastes divine. A properly rustic kind of dish which demands eating with fingers to make the most of all that gorgeously sweet meat clinging to the bones, with plenty of cartilage to be gnawed and marrow to be sucked. The vegetables seem to soak up the gooey, marrow-rich sauce making them beautifully soft, and a large helping of creamy mashed potato is just wonderful served on the side.

What did disappoint was how squeamish the children were about getting stuck in. This isn’t normally a problem in our house, where we’re used to sticky fingers and dribbly chins. Perhaps I left a little too much fat on the oxtail or maybe it was simply the idea of eating a beast’s rear appendage, but I was surprised at how much encouragement my kids needed to finish their plates.

Don’t worry, I never give up on the first attempt. This is definitely a dish I’ll be trying on the clan again soon. I loved it so much, it’s now my mission to make my family love it too.

oxtail

Braised oxtail with smoked bacon

850g oxtail, cut into pieces
2 tbsp olive oil
25g butter
3 rashers smoked bacon, chopped
1 onion, finely chopped
3 carrots, finely chopped
2 celery sticks, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
500ml hot beef stock
salt and pepper

Remove any excess fat from the oxtail and then soak in cold water for three hours, changing the water a couple of times. Drain and pat dry with kitchen towel.

Preheat the oven to 140°C/gas 1.

Heat the butter and oil in a large ovenproof dish, add the bacon and fry for 5 minutes until coloured.

Add the oxtail pieces and brown all over.

Stir in the onion, carrot, celery and garlic and fry together for a few minutes before pouring in the hot beef stock. Add enough hot water to just cover the ingredients and season to taste.

Bring to a gentle simmer, then cover with a lid and transfer to the oven to cook for three to four hours, until the meat comes easily away from the bone and the juices have thickened.

Serve with plenty of creamy mashed potato to soak up all that delicious sauce. And make sure you have napkins to hand.

family-foodies

Oxtail is a very inexpensive cut of beef and so I am entering this dish into May’s Family Foodies challenge (hosted by myself and Eat Your Veg), where the theme is ‘Cheap and Cheerful’.

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I’m also entering into Credit Crunch Munch, co-hosted by Camilla at Fab Food 4 All and Helen at Fuss Free Flavours, and this month guest hosted by Gingey Bites.

Beef broth with rice and vegetables

beef broth

While we all love to experiment in the kitchen, every cook has their favourite ingredients they use again and again in their meals. My usual suspects include garlic, chilli sauce, cream cheese and that Great British favourite, Worcestershire sauce.

I love the way Worcestershire sauce gives a comfortingly rich yet suitably spicy note to all your family staples. It makes a regular appearance in our cottage pies, casseroles and Bolognese sauces. But this is the first time I’ve tried it in a broth and it didn’t disappoint. Together with the soy sauce and beef stock, it creates a gorgeous, deeply meaty broth, just perfect with the tender slices of beef steak, crunchy vegetables and soft rice.

beef broth

This dish was a winner with all the family, although I suspect my husband felt it would benefit from the addition of a little sliced chilli, but then he thinks that about most things I serve up. And it also tasted very good the next day when I heated up a pot in the office microwave for my lunch.

Beef broth with rice and vegetables

1 large sirloin or rump steak
vegetable oil
black pepper
1 litre beef stock
2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce, and a little more for frying the steak
1 tbsp light soy sauce
4 spring onions, sliced
2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
2 carrots, peeled and cut into thin batons
half a butternut squash, peeled and cut into thin batons
120g basmati rice, rinsed
large bunch of fresh parsley, roughly chopped

Heat a large frying pan. Brush the steak with a little vegetable oil and season with black pepper. Fry over a high heat for around 3 minutes on each side, shaking over a few drops of Worcestershire sauce as it cooks. Leave to rest on a warm plate.

Pour the stock into a large saucepan and heat. Add 2 tablespoons of Worcestershire sauce and one of soy sauce, and throw in the spring onions, garlic, carrot, butternut squash and rice. Bring to a simmer, cover and cook gently for around 10 minutes.

Divide the broth between 4 bowls. Thinly slice the steak and place on top of the broth.  Garnish with chopped parsley and serve immediately.

beef broth

If you’d like some more ideas on how to use Worcestershire sauce in your cookery, you should take a look at Lea & Perrins’ YouTube channel. They have created a series of recipe videos with British YouTubers Sorted Food, bringing all kinds of twists to classic family dishes, such as spaghetti Bolognese and cheese on toast.

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Lea & Perrins.

Jacki’s Hungarian goulash

goulash

We ate this goulash for Sunday lunch the other weekend. It was absolutely delicious but sadly I can’t take credit for the recipe. It was sent to me by my Twitter pal Jacki Harrison-Stanley for entry into The Spice Trail challenge, which this month is celebrating paprika.

As Jacki isn’t a blogger, I happily volunteered to post the recipe for her and just had to try out the recipe on my family. They loved it. And it was very simple to make, which is always a big bonus.

Jacki recommends serving her goulash with rice or a baked potato. We happened to have a whole load of spuds that needed using up, so I opted for mashed potato instead, made with plenty of butter and some of the leftover soured cream.

goulash

Jacki’s Hungarian goulash

Serves 5-6

700g braising steak, trimmed and cut into chunks
1 tbsp olive oil
2 large onions, roughly chopped
1 clove of garlic, crushed
1 rounded tbsp plain flour
1 rounded tbsp paprika
400g tin Italian tomatoes
1 medium green pepper, cut into strips
150ml soured cream
salt and pepper

Heat the oil in an ovenproof casserole dish and brown the steak on a high heat.

Remove the meat. Reduce the heat and cook the onions for 5 minutes. Add the garlic and return the meat to the casserole dish.

Sprinkle in the flour and paprika, and give it a good stir to soak up the juices.

Add the tomatoes and season to taste. Bring slowly up to simmering point and then cover with a tight-fitting lid.

Place the casserole dish in the Aga simmering oven for 2 hours or in a conventional oven at 140°C / gas mark 1.

After 2 hours, add the chopped pepper and then cook for a further 30 minutes.

Just before serving, stir in the soured cream to give your goulash a beautiful marbled, creamy look.

Sprinkle with a little paprika, and serve with rice or a baked potato.

My thanks again to Jacki for another brilliant recipe. 

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As Jacki’s goulash is flavoured with paprika, it is being entered into this month’s Spice Trail challenge, a monthly event hosted by me!