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Monday, 30 June 2014

Spicy Beef Casserole

The weather has turned ! After a glorious May of sun filled days and low to mid twenties temperatures, winter has finally arrived. Cold wind and snow on the alps, our minds turn to warm comfort food, stews braises and casseroles.
This beef casserole is quick easy and adaptable. The slow cooking guarantees tender meat and a rich sauce. It can be made the day before and will probably taste the better for it.
You can add vegetables or peppers and chilli for a bit of variety.

1 kg Beef chuck or blade
Rylstone Olive Oil
2 onions finely chopped
3 cloves garlic
2 teaspoons cumin
2 teaspoons coriander
1 1/2 teaspoons paprika
1/2 teaspoon all spice
1 cinnamon stick
zested rind of an orange
440 can tomatoes
2 tablespoons tomato paste
700 mls beef stock
S&P to taste

Heat the oven to slow 160C
Chop the beef not too small, 2 inch cubes.
Heat the oil in a covered ovenproof casserole dish .
Add the beef and cook in batches until just coloured, keeping the temperature on medium to high. Remove and set aside.
Add the onions and garlic to the pot and cook until just translucent.
Add the stock, tomatoes, tomato paste and all the spices and stir through.
Bring to a simmer before returning the beef to the pot.
Place into the oven and cook for 1 1/2 hours. Remove give it a stir and add the orange zest. Return to oven for approx another hour or until meat is tender. Taste and adjust seasoning. All ovens vary so cooking time is only a guide.
The cut of meat usually determines the cooking time, but the cheaper cuts are best and do require at least 2 hours cooking .

Spicy Beef Casserole

Sunday, 15 June 2014

Poached Pears in White Wine and Vanilla

Pears are in season now and are the most beautiful dessert. They are easy and light and with the addition of the sweet syrup just enough to satisfy.
I am not a fan of heavy desserts, particularly in winter after a usually hearty main.
They can be poached the day before, or the morning of, if entertaining.
Serve them with whipped cream, ice cream, mascarpone sweetened with a little icing sugar, cream and lemon curd for a change and an almond tule or crostini. In fact any crunchy little biscuit would be yum. Chocolate sauce is also a beautiful addition if you want something richer.
Great cleansing dessert after a spicy Thai or Indian, not traditional of course, but perfect just the same.
You must use a vanilla bean, no vanilla essence, it is never the same.

6  firm unripe pears ( I like brown bosc ) choose pretty shaped fruit that stands up if you can, with stalk intact
2 cups water
2 cups white wine
1 cup sugar
1 vanilla bean with the seeds scraped out
zest of a lemon

Peel pears with a vegetable peeler leaving the stalk .
Simmer all of the above ingredients until the sugar has dissolved and stand the pears upright in the liquid. Bring to a boil and then turn down to a simmer. About  1 1/2 to 2 hours for the cooking time is good, but it will vary depending on the variety and ripeness of the pears.  It will take at least 30 minutes and if you have pears that are ripe and feel they are cooked or starting to fall apart remove from the syrup and let the syrup reduce down a little more.
Top up with more water if necessary.
The syrup can be used to poach any fruit and can be kept in the refrigerator in a clean glass jar for months.

Sunday, 1 June 2014

Ginger and Coconut Slice

A winter afternoon favourite, with a cup of tea. I hadn't made this for years and made it recently for a day at the country picnic races. Perfect for the occasion and easily transportable.
The icing can vary and this makes it taste a little different each time.
I have used lemon and orange juice to the icing. Whilst the ginger isn't a strong taste, you could put some small slithers of glace ginger into the icing if you love the ginger element . Its old fashioned and delicious.
It very quick to make only 20 minutes in a moderate oven, no excuse !!! Easily doubled.

100 grams butter
2 tablespoons golden syrup
3/4 cup self raising flour
1/2 cup plain flour
3/4 cup desiccated coconut
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg


1 1/2 cup icing sugar
2 tablespoons butter
a couple of tablespoons of either orange or lemon juice
zest of whichever fruit used

Melt the butter and golden syrup together and leave to cool slightly.
Place all of the dry ingredients in a mixing bowl and add the egg. Mix together with the butter, golden syrup mixture. It should come together as a soft dough.
Line a square baking tray with Glad Bake and press the mixture evenly into the tin.
Bake at 170 for 20 minutes.
Melt the butter for the icing and blend with the icing sugar and juice. Use as much juice as you need to blend it together, so as its not too runny.
Remove and ice when cool.  Garnish with zest. Slice and serve