Sunday, 28 March 2010

Beef Casserole

One of my favourite dishes. This serves at least 4 possibly 6 if you add dumplings or a pile of mashed potatoes. Ingredients can be varied depending on what you have in the vegetable drawer. The red grape juice gives a wonderful sweet flavour.

500g Beef in c.3cm chunks (braising steak, skirt or leg - I'm a skirt man myself!)
1 large onion roughly chopped
2 large leeks cleaned and sliced
2 cloves of garlic chopped
2 bay leaves
6 juniper berries
3 parsnips in large chunks
4 medium carrots in chunks
A few dried mushrooms
Red grape juice (500ml-1ltr)
Handful of pearl barley
2-4 tablespoons of vegetable oil
4 tablespoons of seasoned flour (Flour, mustard, salt, pepper, thyme)

Heat the oil in a large casserole dish. Coat the meat in the seasoned flour and brown in batches, lift out and keep warm. When all the meat is browned fry the leeks, onions and garlic. Add the root vegetables and stir to coat. Return the meat and add the pearl barley and bay leaves. Add enough grape juice to cover and the dried mushrooms.
Bring to the boil then cover and put in a low oven for 3-4 hours or until you can't take it any more. Examine occasionally, adding more grape juice or water if it looks a little dry.
Serve with horseradish dumplings or mashed potatoes or crusty bread. Make a big batch as it always tastes better the next day.

Sunday, 14 March 2010

The Power of Five - Cookery Books

I have a rather large, some may say too large, collection of cookery books. These five are the ones I turn too again and again:

Dough - Richard Bertinet
I really get a kick out of making bread and this book has improved the quality of my bread. It contains a variety of interesting recipes and the technique he details makes kneading the dough much easier and the bread much lighter in texture.

Indian Cookery - Khalid Aziz
This is ancient book but the numerous stains indicate how much it has been used! A nice variety of meat and vegetarian Indian dishes.

Fish - Sophie Grigson and William Black
A description of a variety fishy species and ways of cooking them. Useful suggestions of alternate fish to use and some very tasty recipes.

The Kitchen Diaries - Nigel Slater
I adore all of Nigel's books and choosing one over the others was difficult. However this is the one I have found myself tuning to again and again. Lots of flavourful recipes, Nigel's entertaining writing and attractive photography make this a must have.

Farmhouse Cookery - Reader's Digest
My mum had a copy of this and eventually I managed to find a copy for myself via the internet. This is great for traditional recipes (crumbles, dumplings etc.).

This was a difficult job as there are a number of other books I would like to have included (Rick Stein, Jamie Oliver, Nigella Lawson, Madhur Jaffrey et al).