Beef Short Ribs

Beef Short Ribs

A Bank Holiday Weekend and an opportunity to try a new recipe requiring hours of slow cooking: my sort of recipe. I bought the beef with no particular recipe in mind so I was pleased to find I’d bookmarked this one for Glazed Sticky Longhorn Short Ribs over a year ago. I have no idea if my ribs were from Longhorn cows but I bought them from my excellent local butcher, Ruby and White, which has never let me down.

Ingredients

Serves 6

  • About 3kg beef short ribs
  • Rapeseed oil
  • Seasoning

For the sticky BBQ glaze

  • 2 tbsp dark soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 300ml passata
  • 100ml tomato ketchup
  • 2 level tsp five spice
  • 1 level tsp all spice
  • 1 level tsp cayenne pepper (optional)
  • 1 level tsp Sichuan pepper
  • ½ tsp ground black pepper
  • 6 tbsp dark brown sugar
  • 1 level tsp rapeseed oil

Method

(Preheat conventional oven to 100ºC)

  • Place the ribs in a large roasting tin, season and drizzle with rapeseed oil
  • Cover with a double layer of foil and place in the simmering oven to slow-roast for about 8 hours but can be longer. The meat will be tender and falling off the bone
  • A couple of hours before the end of the cooking time make the glaze
  • Place everything in a saucepan, add 100ml water and stir on a medium heat/the simmering plate until the sugar has dissolved.
  • Bring to the boil and simmer for 20 minutes. Or bring to the boil and leave uncovered in the simmering oven for at least half an hour
  • Then pour about ⅔ of the sauce over your ribs, replace the foil and return them to the simmering oven for a minimum of 30 minutes but can be longer
  • I didn’t have all the ingredients for the seasonal slaw so I served our ribs with Nigella’s Hot and Sour Shredded Salad (recipe in her book “Kitchen”) and steamed Basmati rice, with the remaining glaze drizzled over the ribs

Nigella’s Hot and Sour Shredded Salad

Serves 6

  • 3 carrots
  • 4 spring onions
  • 1 long red chilli
  • 1 long green chilli
  • 20g/small bunch coriander

for the dressing:

  • juice of 1 lime (if you don’t have one, a lemon will do)
  • 4 x tbsp Thai fish sauce
  • 1 tsp caster sugar
  • Cut the carrots into long slices and then julienne them (i.e. cut into matchstick-like strips)
  • Trim and halve the spring onions and julienne as well
  • De-seed the chillies and cut into juliennes
  • Finely chop the coriander
  • Mix all of the above in a bowl. In another bowl mix the lime juice, fish sauce and sugar and dress the vegetables with this

 

 

Italian/New York Meatballs

Italian/New York Meatballs

I make meatballs fairly regularly: Italian ones with garlic and herbs in tomato sauce, Thai ones with ginger, chilli and lime in a broth and Scandinavian ones with nutmeg and white pepper in a sour cream sauce. These are just the basics; there are so many variations, I feel I could spend my life making delicious meatballs without serving the same ones twice. And I haven’t even mentioned the accompaniments: pasta, noodles, potatoes or bread? I feel a whole series of blog posts coming on.

When a recipe I spotted recently promised to give me Italian-style meatballs like they make in New York, I couldn’t wait to try them. The meatballs proposed by chef Stephen Harris in the Telegraph are, as he says, quick to make and to cook. While they are not the best I’ve made, they’re pretty good and do conjure up that New York/Italian vibe.

Ingredients

For 2 people

  • 500g beef mince
  • 1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves (optional)
  • 1 ½ tbsp olive oil and some for drizzling
  • 100g baby spinach
  • 1 x 400g tin tomatoes
  • About 30g parmesan and a squeeze of lemon

Method

  • In a bowl mix the mince with about 5 pinches of salt and the thyme leaves if using
  • Roll the mince between your palms into 10 x 50g balls
  • Heat half a tablespoon of oil in a large frying pan and gently fry the meatballs, turning them until they’re brown all over. They will not yet be cooked through to the middle
  • Remove the balls to a plate and heat another half tablespoon of oil in the pan and add the spinach leaves, cooking them until wilted
  • Add the tomatoes, bring to the boil and stir in a little more salt
  • Add the meatballs, turn down to a simmer and cook. If you’re using an Aga, you don’t need to cover them: just place the pan in the simmering oven for about half an hour or longer if you need to. If using a conventional hob, loosely cover the tin (with a lid or some scrunched up foil) and simmer for about 10 minutes
  • Drizzle with a little olive oil, add a squeeze of lemon and serve with grilled ciabatta (see below) and a rocket salad

Grilled ciabatta

  • Split half a ciabatta lengthways
  • Take a ridged griddle pan if you have one (or a regular frying pan if you don’t) and pre-heat it in the roasting oven
  • Place it on the boiling plate and add your ciabatta slices and toast on both sides
  • Rub the pieces of ciabatta with the cut sides of two halved cloves of garlic and drizzle over some olive oil

If I was making these again, I’d add breadcrumbs soaked for half an hour in milk to the meat mixture. I find this makes the meatball texture softer and less rubbery. But that’s for another day. In the meantime, these will do fine.

Chilli con Carne

 

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Saturday can be a day for relaxing and pottering.  One is refreshed after a lie-in perhaps, and the chores that need to be completed before the start of the working week can be delayed until tomorrow.  A day such as this is perfect for some slow cooking and for spending time near the Aga.

Last weekend got off to a particularly enjoyable start when we went out on Friday evening for a meal with some friends.  They introduced us to Bulrush, a fairly new Bristol restaurant, which seems to be gaining in popularity by the day.  We discovered that it had not been over-hyped, either by our friends or in the media, and enjoyed every one of the nine (!) courses on the taster menu.

It was not a late night so I felt rested on Saturday morning.  My husband went off to do a ward round, youngest son to do his paper round and I walked the dog.  Once we’d had breakfast and dressed I popped down to the farmers’ market for some sourdough bread for lunch and came home to start on the chilli I’d planned for supper.  At this time of year I love Saturday evenings when we have no plans because it means I can sit and watch Strictly Come Dancing with a gin and tonic and organise for the supper to be ready afterwards.  Chilli works well because it can be left to bubble away all afternoon in the simmering oven and all that’s required as Strictly is coming to an end is to cook some rice and make a salsa.

I suspect for many of us chilli is one of those dishes which we make from memory, perhaps using slightly different ingredients each time.  For years I’ve been basing mine on this ragù recipe; I just substitute red wine for white, add chilli powder before adding the tomato purée and finally red kidney beans about half an hour before serving.  This weekend that is more or less what I did but instead of just chilli powder, I also added some cumin and some chipotle paste.  This provided added depth and smokiness and I was delighted with the result.

Ingredients

  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
  • 2 tbsps olive oil
  • 1kg minced beef (full fat for flavour)
  • 1 heaped tsp ground cumin
  • 4 tsps chipotle paste
  • 1/2 tsp chilli powder
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 tbsp tomato purée
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 200ml milk
  • 200ml red wine
  • 500ml passata
  • 1 or 2 x 400g tins red kidney beans
  • Sour cream to serve

Method

  • Heat the olive oil in a large casserole and add the onion and a sprinkling of salt.  Stir to coat in the oil and leave to cook in the simmering oven, or if you’re in a hurry on the simmering plate, stirring regularly
  • When the onions are soft and translucent, add the crushed garlic, place the casserole on the boiling plate and add the mince and some salt, stirring and breaking it up with a fork as you go.  When it has lost its pink colour, transfer to the simmering plate and stir in the spices, chipotle paste and tomato purée
  • Then add the milk and bay leaves and let this cook, uncovered, until most of it is absorbed before you add the wine
  • After about five minutes add the passata, give it a stir and when it’s just about simmering, transfer, still uncovered, to the simmering oven for a minimum of three hours but it won’t come to any harm if left there for six.  Add the kidney beans about half an hour before you plan to eat
  • Serve with basmati rice, a dollop of sour cream and salsa

Salsa

I happened to use this Delia salsa recipe this time but there are many others and you might already have a favourite.  Simply mix all the ingredients together.

  • 1 large avocado, peeled and diced
  • 1/2 red onion, finely chopped
  • 2 tomatoes, deseeded and the flesh diced (you can also peel them if you like)
  • About a tablespoon of chopped fresh coriander or to taste
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • A few drops of tabasco
  • Seasoning

 

 

Horseradish Sauce

For the first time in years I am alone on a Sunday.  Well, not completely alone since my mother-in-law is here, in her flat on the bottom floor of our house.  She’s worried that I’ve stayed behind because of her but while it’s true that she’s frail and we don’t like to leave her on her own, that’s not the case.  It was my choice and I’m enjoying the chance to catch my breath; I’ve never minded my own company.  My husband is on his annual Scottish fishing trip and youngest son’s in Cornwall with his brother and fiancée, staying with her family, and I’m just happy if everyone’s doing what they want to do.   I’ve mentioned before that we usually have Sunday lunch or supper with Granny, but she and I agreed there didn’t seem much point in doing a roast today.  I’m finding it quite liberating to be able to eat what and when I like.

So, although I’m not roasting anything myself today, I thought I’d tell you about this delicious homemade horseradish sauce I made last Sunday when there were six of us round the table for roast beef.  The same friends who gave us their homegrown courgettes had given us a piece of horseradish from their garden.  I’d never used it before and was delighted with this creamy, fresh-tasting sauce.

All you do is grate about 15g (more if you like extra heat) of horseradish and soak it in two tablespoons of hot water; drain, then mix it with one tablespoon of white wine vinegar, a pinch of mustard powder, salt and pepper and 150ml of lightly whipped double cream.

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Summer “Cooking”

Maybe I’m just making excuses to be lazy but the summer weather means I haven’t felt much like baking or cooking recently.  It hasn’t even been consistently hot and sunny but here in Bristol, even on the wet, grey days, it’s been muggy: not the sort of weather conducive to standing next to a hot oven for a few hours.

The solution is either to get your husband to barbecue or to prepare salads and light dishes requiring minimal cooking time.  I have managed to achieve both of these and thought I’d share with you some of the recipes we’ve enjoyed.

First up, this courgette tart, which was an excellent way of using up some superb homegrown courgettes a friend had given us.  The recipe is by Rose Prince and appeared in the Saturday Telegraph magazine a couple of weeks ago.  You will see that she recommends making your own rough puff pastry but I went for second best and used shop bought pure butter puff pastry.  I was not that successful at getting my courgettes to form “ribbons” but it didn’t matter that much.

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Next, burgers.  This was a very last minute supper.  It was a lovely warm evening and so we shelved our original supper plans and youngest son popped to Waitrose to buy some ground beef (not too lean) and burger buns.  All I do to make burgers is add ground black pepper and an egg, mix well and shape.  I don’t add onion or salt or garlic.  This way you can really taste the beef and get additional flavours from the sauces and other toppings you serve alongside (eg gherkins, ketchup, bbq sauce, mustard, cheese, lettuce, sliced tomatoes).  Sometimes we sandwich our burgers in ciabatta but, to be honest, the regular burger buns with sesame seeds work perfectly.  On this occasion, in addition to the toppings listed above, I found some red Romano peppers in the fridge which I halved, deseeded, drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with salt for my husband to grill on the barbecue.  J invited his friend round to join us and by the time we were ready to eat it was nearly dark so we lit some candles and tucked in.  Impromptu evenings like this are very often the most enjoyable.

Once again, my latest favourite cookbook, Honey and Co., came up trumps when I wanted a simple fish recipe the other Friday.  The recipe in the book used sea bream but I could only get sea bass fillets; I doubt there’s much difference.  I just roasted the fish fillets (one each) in the Aga roasting oven for 8-9 minutes with a little olive oil and seasoning and squirted on some lemon juice at the end.  The salad ingredients are as follows (for 4 people):

  • 4 small Lebanese cucumbers or 1 long one
  • 250g red grapes
  • 4 sprigs fresh mint, leaves picked and chopped
  • 1 small bunch dill, fronds picked and chopped
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • 1 tsp salt
  • Ground black pepper
  • 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 200g pain yoghurt (I used Greek style)

Peel the cucumber to create a zebra-striped effect, slice in half lengthways and use a teaspoon to scoop out the seeds.  Chop into crescents and place in a large bowl.  Wash and halve the grapes and add with the chopped herbs.  Season with the lemon juice, salt, pepper and olive oil and mix well.  Spread two tablespoons of yoghurt on each plate and pile some salad on top, ready for the fish when it’s cooked.  Et voilà.

Salade Niçoise

Salade Niçoise is one of my favourite summer salads.  On summer holidays in France I would always order it.  But what is it exactly?

Last weekend I decided to make it when my son W and his fiancée were home, but realised I’d never used a recipe and always just made it up as I went along.  Browsing some of my cookery books, magazine cuttings and Google, I realised that there were many different versions of this salad.  I consulted Twitter too: there were as many people declaring potatoes were definitely not to be added as there were those who insisted on them.  What to do?  The wonderful Felicity Cloake had of course done the research in this article in her “How to make the perfect” series, but her “perfect” recipe was not my perfect one.  In reading about the salad, I was surprised at how many chefs, including Felicity, did not include tuna.  For me, this salad is one of the best vehicles for tinned tuna.  I was also surprised that green beans were not a regular addition.  I liked the raw broad bean idea but it would be more time consuming for this fairly lazy cook.  (I also didn’t skin or deseed my tomatoes: what of it?)

In conclusion, there doesn’t seem to be a an agreed upon, universal recipe for Salade Niçoise but what does it matter?  Make a salad with the the ingredients you like and which you have to hand.  On this particular occasion, mine was made with new potatoes which I added to the vinaigrette (some say mustard is a no no but I’m not one of them) while still warm, green beans, cooked and refreshed in cold water, tomatoes, tinned tuna, black olives, anchovies (essential) and hard boiled eggs.  I also added cucumber but this was a mistake: too watery.  It may not have been authentic, but with crusty ciabatta to mop up the dressing, it made for a delicious Saturday lunch.  And next time I make it, it might well be completely different.

 

Casseroles

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Spring was definitely in the air last weekend.  It was still chilly, especially in the early morning and evening, but when the sun was shining one could actually feel the heat from it.  Early Spring blossom has started to appear on the trees in Bristol and the daffodils are very much in flower.  So it might seem odd that I chose to cook rather wintry, comfort food dishes, but I thought I’d better get them in before temperatures really do rise.

 

Lancashire Hotpot

My husband says I can’t possibly write a post about this meal because we didn’t take a photo of it, but, with apologies for the lack of illustration, I’ve decided to do it anyway.  It was a success and the ideal thing to cook last Saturday when I had plenty of time in the morning but wanted to watch England play Wales in a crucial Six Nations rugby match in the afternoon.  Honestly, as you will see, this hotpot is more or less just an assembly job.  While I was preparing it I managed to keep an eye on the Italy v Ireland match.

For the ingredients, I more or less followed Felicity Cloake again and make no apologies for that.  Here is what I did.

Ingredients

(Serves 4)

  • 6 lamb cutlets
  • 400g diced lamb shoulder
  • Flour, salt and pepper
  • 3-4 large, floury potatoes
  • 2 sprigs thyme
  • 2 onions, sliced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 300ml stock (Felicity says lamb stock, but I used a homemade chicken one because that’s what I had in the fridge, and it was fine.)
  • 20g melted butter, plus extra to grease.

Method

  • Dust the meat with the flour and seasoning.  Peel and slice the potatoes thinly.
  • Butter a casserole which has a lid.
  • Put a layer of overlapping potato slices in the bottom of the casserole, season them and sprinkle with a little thyme.
  • Put the meat and bay leaf on top, followed by the onions and some more seasoning.
  • Top with the remaining potatoes, overlapping them again.  Season these and pour on the stock, which should not come above the topping.
  • Brush the potatoes with the melted butter.
  • Put the lid on and place the casserole in the simmering oven.  Cook for 4-6 hours.
  • Thirty minutes before serving, remove the lid and transfer to the roasting oven to brown the potatoes.

I placed it in the oven at about 2pm and then all I had to do when we were ready to eat was steam some carrots (in the simmering oven of course) and cook some cabbage.

 

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By the way, for afternoon tea on the sofa, in front of the England v Wales match, we had buttered slices of this delicious “hot cross” fruit loaf which I’d bought in the morning from the Bordeaux Quay stall at Whiteladies Road Market.

 

 

 

Simple Stroganoff

This beef stroganoff, based on Delia Smith’s recipe, has the flavours of “proper” stroganoff but the advantage that it can be made ahead instead of at the last minute; it’s ideally suited to Aga cooking.

Ingredients

(Serves 4 people)

  • 700g fairly lean braising beef
  • 2 onions, sliced
  • 50g butter
  • 275 ml dry white wine
  • 250g mushrooms, sliced if large
  • 250ml sour cream
  • Freshly grated nutmeg
  • Salt and freshly milled black pepper

Method

  • Cut the meat into thin strips, about 5mm wide and no more than 6cm long.
  • Melt the butter in a casserole and soften the onion in it in the simmering oven for about 15 minutes.  Remove to a plate with a slotted spoon.
  • Place the casserole on the boiling plate and brown the beef in batches.
  • Once the meat is browned, move the casserole to the simmering plate and return the beef and onion to it.  Season and pour in the wine.
  • Bring to simmering point, put on the lid and let it cook in the simmering oven for 3-4 hours.
  • An hour before you want to eat, stir in the mushrooms, cover and return it to the oven.
  • Taste to check seasoning, stir in the sour cream with a good grating of nutmeg.  Don’t let the cream boil.
  • Serve with plain boiled rice and perhaps some broccoli or a green salad.

Depending on the weather, perhaps my next posts will move on to lighter, fresher dishes.