Tag Archives: Meat

Autumn days

22 Oct

Yesterday was a beautiful autumnal day today. The sun shone all day long, and my wee chickens scrubbled about out in their yard chuntering away to one another. I discovered that my few remaining plants in the greenhouse were all beginning to get covered and smothered in greenfly, so I took a couple of pots of greenfly-ridden chilli plants out to the chooks for them to nibble at. Minutes later the leaves were stripped off and gobbled up by my happy girls.

So, with chooks happy in the garden, it seemed like a good day to spend in the kitchen, preparing this and that to make the meals easier through the week when I get home from work each night.

So meatballs are cooked and in the freezer, with a tomatoey sauce in a separate pot.

making meatballs

shaping meatballs

There’s a big old pot of lentil soup for lunches, made with a smoked ham hock and a wee smidgin of curry spices.

There is of course a lovely sourdough loaf (wholemeal) and the bread machine also made a half and half (granary/white) loaf. The meat from the ham hock has been cut up into wee cubes to be added to a frittata or omelette later in the week.

I made a big tub of granola with nuts and oats and fruit – mixed with apple juice, a wee bit of syrup and some ginger and cinnamon.

In between times I made some delicious cinnamon squirlies. I blame delicious magazine – they featured them on their facebook page and I just caved and had to make them. They were totally worth it, really easy to make and absolutely scrumptious, especially warm with icecream.

cinnamon squirlie dough

cinnamon squirlies – just pull apart and eat

And as if that wasn’t enough, I had already decided that for supper we were having roast pork with all the trimmings. The trimmings on this occasion included roasted apples, curly kale, a beetroot and potato gratin and roasted beetroots and caramelised onions, all brought together with a jus made with juices from the roast pork dish and apple juice reduced down till it was concentrated flavoursome perfection.

Autumnal roast pork

I don’t cook roasts too often, but after this success I may do it more often. And there were delicious leftovers for through the week: we’ll have sliced pork and chutney sandwiches for lunch and this evening we had the rest of the beetroot and potato gratin, served with spicy roast butternut squash and chicken wrapped in smoky bacon.

I think my focus in the next few weeks will be on how to make really good meals quickly on weekday evenings – some will be from scratch, others will involve some prep the weekend before. Watch this space.

Chicken chasseur

12 Jun

So, I’m trying to be really organised, planning meals in advance and doing a big shop once a week in Edinburgh. And this week I’ve got some of it right. I did the big shop (online, delivered yesterday evening) and then started the planning once I had the food in my cupboards and the fridge. Clearly that’s the wrong way around, but it’s ok.. it’s coming together. And next week I’ll be better and plan first, shop second.

The other problem with my shop is that I hadn’t been home in my flat for ten days, so the shopping was sort of done from memory. As a result I’ve got LOTS of flour, and am running out of washing up liquid. Ah well, first world problems!

Anyway, this evening my plan told me that supper would be made from chicken, mushrooms, potato. And perhaps carrot and courgette. This was all pointing towards a chicken chasseur. Chasseur recipes are meals that hunters might eat (I think) … although I suspect that no self-respecting hunter would eat the chicken I was going to cook. But I think it is the mushrooms that all chasseurs traditionally have. Or am I entirely wrong and that’s a chicken forestiere? Oh, I really must do some research before I start trying to write about things I think I know more about than I really do.

But this is my version of what I am going to call chicken chasseur. It’s relatively cheap, easy to adapt, and pretty healthy. I’m trying to lose weight at the moment. Trying? I’m succeeding! I’m on weightwatchers, and it’s working really well for me, losing between 1 and 2lbs a week. And this recipe works well on the weightwatchers system. So I’ll be having leftovers for lunch tomorrow with some bulgur wheat!

Chicken Chasseur

  • 600g chicken thighs (between 6 and 8 thighs probably). Either leave them whole, or cut them into chunks… cut off any fat, to keep it healthy
  • a drizzle of olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, cut in half then sliced thinly, in half moon shapes
  • 2 medium carrots, chopped into wee chunks
  • 1 red pepper, cut into chunks
  • about 300g chestnut mushrooms, cut in half
  • 1 tin of chopped tomatoes
  • 1 chicken stock cube
  • thyme – either dried or fresh, or parsley
  1. Brown the chicken thighs in a large frying pan. If you have an oil sprayer, then use that, if you don’t then use a minimum amount of oil so the thighs don’t stick
  2. Remove the chicken from the pan and put to one side
  3. Lightly fry the onion in the pan for 3-4 minutes, then add the rest of the ingredients, and add the chicken back into the pan
  4. Add a half a pint or so of water. Ideally everything should be in the sauce, although it doesn’t need to be entirely submerged.
  5. Stir it gently, then cover the pan and let it bubble away for about 30 minutes. Less time if you cut those thighs into bits before you started.
And that’s it. Serve it with bulgur wheat. Or a baked potato. Or potato wedges, done in the oven with other roasted veg such as courgettes, and onions. That’s what I had this evening and it was super tasty.
And now I’m going to be really geeky and make a list of the foods I have in my cupboard, so I can tick things off when I need them and be more organised with my shopping, and eating. Yeah, go me, I’m so rock n roll!

Spicy turmeric chicken

2 May

I love recipe books, and have a relatively large collection. One I’ve owned for a while, but have cooked little from is Leon’s Naturally Fast Food. It’s a beautiful thing, lovely design (although will it seem very dated when I look back at it in 10 years time?) and some great recipes for making fast, fresh food.

This morning before I left for work I had a quick flick through the recipes and decided to make their South Indian Pepper Chicken. It’s a beautifully simple recipe, and pretty low fat, so it’s my kinda healthy too.

South Indian Pepper Chicken

  • A drizzle of olive oil (use the stuff from the spray bottle if you care, otherwise use about a teaspoonful)
  • About 500g skinless, boneless chicken thighs, diced
  • Maldon sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 garlic cloves chopped
  • about 1″ root ginger, chopped fine
  • 1 large onion, cut in half, then sliced finely to give thin crescent shapes
  • a heaped tsp turmeric
  • 2 tomatoes, roughly diced
  1. Heat the oil in large frying pan, add the chicken pieces, then sprinkle on a good pinch of sea salt and LOTS of black pepper. Stir it about then add some more black pepper
  2. Cook for a few minutes, till the chicken browns. Then tip it out of the pan into a bowl and set aside
  3. Add the garlic, onion, ginger and turmeric to the pan and cook for a couple of minutes
  4. Add the tomatoes and a good glug of water and stir together
  5. Add the chicken back into the pan and cook with a lid on for about 10 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked. Take the lid off and reduce the sauce down a little if it’s all too wet still.
Serve with rice and kale. I had no rice in the flat, so had it with noodles instead and it was bloody lovely. This is enough to serve 2 or 3, depending how hungry you are, and what you’re serving it with.

Gumbo party

14 Mar

Is it a soup?

Is it a stew?

It’s a gumbo!

One of my colleagues is in his early 20s and is really just learning about cooking properly. A few weeks ago he was very proud of the chicken gumbo he had made. He was surprised how easy it was to make something so tasty.

Fast forward to this Monday, and I was at a bit of a loss as to what to cook for supper. All I knew I had in the fridge was a chorizo sausage. So, my colleague suggested chicken gumbo. Perfect!

The basic recipe which inspired this is on the bbc good food website here. If you haven’t checked out the recipes on bbc good food, you’ve missed out.  Go on, have a browse – they have more pics than I usually do.

A top tip here: chop up everything else and put them in bowls (doubling things up that are being thrown in the pan together) before you cut up your chicken. That way, you just need to clean the knife and the board at the end.

Chicken Gumbo

  • 4 – 5 chicken thighs, cut into chunks
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, smooshed up
  • 1 green chilli, sliced finely
  • 2 stalks of celery, chopped finely
  • 1 TBsp plain flour
  • 1 large tin/carton chopped tomatoes
  • a chicken stock cube
  • a mug of boiling water
  • 1 courgette, cut into chunks
  • 2 red peppers, cut into chunks
  • 2 bay leaves
  • a couple of stalks of fresh thyme
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • about 100g chorizo, chopped into chunks
  • a couple of new potatoes, cut into small chunks
  • a few handfuls of spinach
  1. Using a wee bit of oil, fry off the chicken in a large heavy bottomed frying pan
  2. Remove the chicken, and let it rest in a bowl till you’re ready for it again
  3. Add the celery and onion to the pan, and cook over a gentle heat till the onion is translucent. Add the garlic and chilli and cook for another couple of minutes
  4. Add the flour to the veg, stir and cook for a minute or so.
  5. Add the chopped tomatoes, chicken stock cube and boiling water and stir together
  6. Put the chicken back in the pan, followed by all other ingredients, except for the spinach, and simmer with a lid on for about 20 minutes
  7. Add the spinach and stir through – it won’t really need further cooking as the spinach will just wilt into the gumbo
  8. EAT!
This is great the next day once the flavours have melded together. I had it on its own as there is plenty veg in there with the meat. However, if you want more carbs, it would be lovely with noodles or rice.
It’s a pretty flexible recipe – add peas, sweetcorn, even prawns or fish. And make it as spicy or plain as you want. But you knew that already.
Next year it’s Gumbo instead of pancakes for Shrove Tuesday!

Bringing home the bacon

16 Feb

Well, the plan is I won’t need to bring it home for much longer, as I’ll be curing my own!

I started my first cure this evening. Verdict in about a weeks’ time.

Dry sweetcure

Pork belly in a bag with sweetcure mix

Slowly does it….

6 Dec

So, a few weeks ago I purchased a slow cooker. I’d never really thought of buying one before, and had no desire to own one.  But someone at work was talking about theirs and how brilliant it is to come home in the evening to a tasty stew or casserole, ready when you walk in the door.

So, I weighed it up:

Pros

  1. Delicious hot food ready when I get home from work
  2. I love stews and casseroles
  3. It fits in with low carb lifestyle – easy way to eat meat
  4. It will add variety to my current diet during the week, which currently relies on speedy meals when I get in
  5. I’ll be able to cook tasty meals with cheaper cuts of meat
  6. I can freeze what I don’t eat straight away (or chuck it in the fridge for the next day)
  7. It’s a new challenge
  8. It might encourage me to be more organised about meals, therefore less likely to impulse buy bad food

Cons

  1. Will I worry all day that I’ve left a hot plate on in the flat and it will burn down?
  2. What if I’ve set it on in the morning, but end up not getting home till really late?
  3. I’ll never have time in the morning to get it going
  4. If I do have time, I’ll end up oh so hungry before lunchtime
  5. I’ll never be organised enough to be in on consecutive nights, one to buy meat, the next to eat it
  6. I don’t have room for it in the teeny tiny kitchen

So.  The cons seemed to be mostly things I could overcome quite easily. So I bought one.  Cheap, on amazon. I won’t bother giving you a linky thing there – I’m sure you can find one there for yourself if you want it.

But anyway.. I’ve not used the slow cooker too often, mainly because the con number 5 is very real.  It’s relatively rare that I’m in my flat two nights in a row. And I’m never here at weekends. So, clearly I have to spend less time going out and more staying in and saving money eating tasty cheap stews and casseroles.

Yesterday evening I bought some stewing steak, from the local supermarket, ready diced.

And this morning I made a gingered beef stew in the slow cooker.  It probably took me about 15 minutes before I went to work. OK, maybe 20 minutes tops, but really no longer.  And I was still in work early.

Gingered beef stew

My slow cooker instructions tell me I need to turn the machine on to high for 20 minutes before I put the ingredients in.  So, before I went in for my shower, I turned the cooker on to high and took the beef out of the fridge.  I also assembled all the other ingredients. Then when I was dressed I chopped, stirred and threw the whole thing together.

olive oil

440g diced stewing steak

1 onion, cut in chunks

a knob of butter

about 1TBsp flour

a big squidge of tomato puree

balsamic vinegar – a big splash, maybe about 1-2 TBsps

1 large tsp muscovado sugar

about 1″ fresh ginger, chopped finely

2 bay leaves

tin of chopped tomatoes

beef stock cube

  1. Splash some olive oil into a big frying pan, and once it’s hot add the beef to brown it
  2. Remove the beef from the pan and set aside
  3. Put the butter in the pan, with the onion, cut into large chunks.  Reduce the heat to gently cook the onion (it should take 5-10 mins to get soft and translucent)
  4. Throw in the flour, and stir around, then add the all the other ingredients, except the tin of tomatoes.
  5. Add a good splash of water from the kettle, and stir well to create a thick sauce
  6. Now add the tin of tomatoes
  7. Now put the beef into the slow cooker, and then add the sauce on top
  8. Turn the heat down to slow, or whatever.

Go to work.  Come home and eat with savoy cabbage. Or cauliflower. Or broccoli. Or I guess you could have potatoes or linguine if you wanted the carbs.

The great thing about this is that it can be dressed up with more flavours – garlic, herbs, chilli pepper – if you have time.  But just as it is it’s a pretty tasty dish.

 

 

Citrussy meaty goodness

10 Nov

I’d got into a bit of a cooking rut.  Or perhaps a meat rut.  I’d buy mince (for meatballs, chilli or bolognese sauce), and chicken (almost infinite possibilities) and beef (stew of some description, more recently in my new slow cooker).

So I realised that if you keep buying the same things, you’ll keep making similar things.  And I bought some pork loin steaks.  Is that even what they are called?  I’m low carbing (love how I’ve turned that into a verb, I low carb, you low carb, we low carb… we all become diet bores!).  And then I had a quick flick through a recent copy of delicious magazine (why do I so that when I already own so many cook books?) for inspiration.  This was utterly delicious and quite unlike anything I would have normally made.

Pork with orange and thyme

The zest and juice of 1 orange

a few sprigs of fresh thyme

2 pork loin steaks

1TBsp muscovado sugar

  1. Splash some oil into a frying pan over a medium heat
  2. Add the orange zest, and the thyme.  You can throw in the whole sprigs if you want, or just the leaves
  3. Fry for about 3 minutes, till the zest is crispy, then take the zest and thyme out of the pan and set aside
  4. Season the pork with salt and pepper and add to the pan.  Cook for 3 minutes each side, or until browned and cooked through
  5. Remove pork from pan and set aside
  6. Deglaze the pan with the orange juice, and add the sugar.  Simmer until well reduced.
  7. Add everything back into the pan again and warm through.
  8. Serve with savoy cabbage.
OK, you could serve it with lots of other things, but I’m still low carbing so it was just perfect with a big mound of bright green savoy cabbage.

It sounds more complicated than it is with all the taking out of the pan and setting aside – just make sure you have a wooden chopping board to rest the meat on (or a warm plate) and you’ll be fine.

 

 

 

Turning up the pressure

2 Aug

I bought a pressure cooker a wee while ago.

I’d never cooked with a pressure cooker before, but read the manual (and yes, I bought a pressure cooker cook book too) and decided it couldn’t be too difficult or dangerous.  And it’s not.

I made soup.  I made braised beef (vaguely from a recipe book). And then I didn’t make anything for a while.

But I’m about to enter festival-time and that means there will be little time for the niceties in life, like cooking my own meals.  So, this evening was all about the homemade meals for 40 days and 40 nights.  OK, only 25 days and nights, but it’ll feel like more.

So, the pressure cooker was pressed into action to make beef stew.

I caramelised a bag of shallots, then put them to one side.  Then I browned about 1 1/2lb diced beef, after it had been tossed in flour (mixed with herbs, spice and salt and pepper).  The browned meat was also put to one side.

A carton of chopped tomatoes and some water was added, with a beef stock cube.  Add back in all the meat and the shallots.

I threw in some mushrooms and then snapped shut the lid.  The next bit is the anxiety-making bit with a pressure cooker – you put the weight on the lid and start to turn up the heat.  Not too hot mind you.

Nothing much happens for a while, then it all gets a bit steamy.  A wee red button pops up, and steam seems to escape from places you think steam shouldn’t be escaping from.  And then, eventually, the weight starts spinning round and round.  Turn down the heat, so it spins gently.

I cooked the beef for around 30 mins, and it is now tender and delicious.  And divided into 6 separate foil tins to go into the freezer in the morning.

Yeah, I know, it’s not really enough for 40 days and 40 nights.  But honestly, how hard is it to cook a salmon fillet?

 

 

Making room in the freezer

6 Mar

My boyfriend’s daughters are coming for supper on Friday.  They are bringing their babies with them, aged nearly two and nearly one.  I get on well with them, which is good, and they like my home cooking which is also good.

I usually get back here from work at about 7.30pm, which to me is too late to start cooking anything elaborate, or some evenings anything at all.  G is good at judging this moment, and last Friday suggested we went down to our local hotel/bistro for a bite to eat.  We both had fish and chips (reliably tasty) followed by a platter of cheese and biscuits (not worth it) and washed down with a perfectly acceptable sauvignon blanc.  A taxi took us home and we walked down through the woods, and along by the river to pick up the car the next morning – a lovely way to start the day (followed by a trip to the farmers market, the royal mail depot and the post office).

But back to next Friday.  The daughters.  I decided it would be easiest to make a big stew and put it in the freezer – G can take it out on Thursday night and leave it in the fridge, and then re-heat it on Friday before picking me up from the station.

Except that really there wasn’t room for even a scoop of ice cream in the freezer. So, out came the bags of frozen damsons picked from the tree last autumn. And they are now bubbling away on the stove, filling the house with that deliciously autumnal plummy aroma.  I made plumbrillo for the first time in the autumn, and loved it.  In fact I loved it so much I gave it all away.  So now I’m making some to keep – some will stay in the valley, the rest will go back to the city, and will jazz up my lunches, no doubt accompanied by cheese from Mellis the Cheesemonger.  Yum.

So, the brown stew.  The name isn’t particularly appetising is it?  But it’s what G calls it, rolling the R in brrrrrown to render the word almost unrecognisable.

I started off at our local butchers and bought 1.5kg of shoulder steak.

Put about a cupful of plain flour into a large bowl, and season with lots of pepper and some salt.  And any herbs you might like.

Cut any excess fat or gristly bits off the steak and cut into bitesize pieces.  Bitesize can really be whatever you like, but I like them big enough to bite, but small enough that a piece can go in your mouth whole. Remember though that they will shrink a bit on cooking.

Throw the pieces of meat into the bowl of flour, and mix around every so often to make sure all the pieces are individually coated.

Fry the meat, a little at a time, in a butter/oil mix in a large pan.  Each batch should only just cover the base of the pan, anymore and it won’t fry properly. Fry until brown on one side and then flip them all over individually. Yes, this is time-consuming, but worth it.  When each batch is cooked (it doesn’t need to be cooked through, just nicely brown on each side) put them in a bowl while you get on with the next lot.

The pan you use should be a big casserole that can hold the whole stew and go in the oven quite happily.

When you’ve done all the meat add a couple of chopped onions to the pan, a wee bit more butter/oil if you need it and a teaspoonful or so of sugar.  Gently fry the onions over a medium heat for about 10 minutes, till they’re nicely caramelised.  While they are frying prepare some other things to put in the stew: chop up some carrot and turnip; finely chop a clove or two of garlic; cut up some mushrooms or peppers if you want, but keep them in nice big chunks or they will disappear in the stew. If you like it spicy, feel free to chop a chilli or two.

Once the onions are caramelised add the garlic, followed quickly by the other veg. Saute for a wee minute or two.  Or five.

Add a couple of tablespoons of worcestershire sauce and the same of tomato puree.  Throw in any herbs or spices you want – I like to throw in a bit of spicy dry harissa I have in a jar and always a bay leaf or two. I think I bought the harissa online a year or so ago, and it packs a great punch, and a wonderful heat at the end of each mouthful of stew.

But I digress.

You now need to chuck the meat back in, and add enough beef stock to just cover the whole stew and give the whole thing a good stir.  Bring back to a slow simmer, and put in the oven for at least a couple of hours simmering away.

And that’s it.

If possible, make it the day before so the flavours can meld and develop. Give it a taste and add more salt and pepper if needed.

Eat with mashed potatoes, and savoy cabbage.

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