Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Oxtail Stew

A friend recommended I try this, even though I was a bit wary of trying or cooking with oxtail. For some reason, it just didn't occur to me that it would be like beef, seeing as it is from the same animal! This did taste like a very rich, unctuous beef stew. I thought it tasted amazing! The secret is the long, slow cooking. I did it in my oven, set at about 130c for 6 hours, but it would work just as well in a slow cooker. Put your slow cooker on low, for as long as you can. I will certainly be making it again. Perfect served with creamy thick mash on a cold, snowy day.

Serves 4

4 large pieces of oxtail
Oil for frying
4 carrots, chopped
6 shallots, peeled but left whole (or use 2 onions, diced)
Half of a large swede, peeled & diced
2 large leeks, sliced
1 whole star anise
3 garlic cloves, peeled, left whole but crushed slightly
1 bay leaf
1 litre of beef stock
Salt & pepper to season

Preheat your oven to 130c (or use a slow cooker). In an oven & hob proof casserole dish, fry the oxtail on all side until coloured. Remove from the heat, and add all the other ingredients. Pop into the oven, covered, for 6 hours. Before serving, remove the bones - the meat should just fall off.

Friday, 15 March 2013

Egg & Bacon cups

These delicious little things are what my children and I shared for Mothers day brunch! So simple to make, and lovely to eat. I will need to make more next time, these disappeared too quickly. Be careful not to over-mix your eggs when whisking, be gentle. You could add any extras you fancy, such as mushrooms or cherry tomatoes. I have many ideas for some tasty variations.

Makes 6 cups

6 rashers of streaky bacon
6 eggs
Handful of grated cheese
Salt & pepper to season

Preheat the oven to 200c.
Line a muffin tray with a piece of bacon in each cup. Gently mix the eggs with the cheese, and season to taste. Pour the mixture equally between the 6 bacon cups. Pop into the oven for around 20/25 minutes, until all the egg mixture is cooked. Serve with toast & a dollop of ketchup!

Broc-a-leekie Soup

This is another amazing soup recipe from Clementines of Broughty Ferry! I really enjoyed this soup, so warm & filling - perfect for the wintry days we are still getting. This is great if you are vegetarian or a meat eater. I cant wait to make this one again.

1 leek sliced
1 head of broccoli, chopped (stalk too! no waste!)
1 medium potato, peeled & diced
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
1.2 litres of vegetable stock

Fry the leek & garlic in some butter until softened, around 5 minutes. Add the broccoli, potato & stock, season & simmer for 15 minutes. Blitz with a hand blender and serve with a swirl of cream.

Chicken & asparagus roll-ups

Asparagus is in season, and I love to use seasonal veg. Usually it is just used as a side dish, but this recipe makes good use of them. I really enjoyed this recipe with just a nice simple baby leaf salad & a cucumber & dill cream. One chicken breast will serve on person, because you will be slicing them in half. I flattened mine with a rolling pin, a meat hammer would work too.

Serves 2

2 chicken breasts, sliced in half then flattened
1 beef tomato, sliced
75g grated parmesan
4 asparagus spears, sliced in half one way, and again the other way
1 crushed garlic clove
Olive oil

Preheat the oven to 220c.
Fry the garlic lightly in a large frying pan with oil. Fry the chicken on one side only, them remove to a chopping board. Discard the garlic.
Cooked side down, layer a slice of tomato, half the parmesan cheese and 4 pieces of asparagus per breast. Roll up & secure with a cocktail stick. Place in a roasting tray and sprinkle the remaining cheese on top.
Cook in the oven for around 20 minutes. Serve with your choice of side dish.

Chinese Beef & Vegetables

On a Friday night, I just like a quick & easy dinner to prepare. Its the end of the week, everyone is tired and looking forward to the weekend - and finances don't stretch to a takeaway! This can be put together quite quickly and has minimum fuss. The kids really enjoyed this, I served it with egg fried rice, though they have requested noodles next time.

Serves 4

400g strips of beef/steak
300g tenderstem broccoli
1 onion, sliced
5 large chestnut mushrooms, sliced
2 fat garlic cloves, sliced thin
1 large carrot, cut into small thin strips
4 tablespoons oyster sauce
Oil for frying (I used sesame but sunflower would work)

In a large wok, fry the beef strips for 2/3 minutes in some oil. When all coloured, remove to a warm plate. Add a splash of water to the wok, and add the broccoli. Stir fry until the broccoli is bright green, then remove to the plate. Add some more oil, and fry the onion & carrot until softened, then add the garlic & mushrooms. Fry for 3  more minutes then tip in the beef & broccoli. Add the oyster sauce and 250ml of water, and allow to reduce to a sticky sauce. Serve with rice or noodles.