Sunday, 29 April 2012

Ginger Inspired Beef Stew for Slow Cookers

Mr R came home the other day with a pack of steak mince he bought at out local supermarket which was reduced for a quick sale - £5.20 reduced to 52p!!! Did I make a good choice he asked me.  He certainly did.  I immediately put the meat in the freezer along with the other meat he got at similar prices until I decided to cook it in my slow cooker.

I have had my slow cooker for about 5 years now and I tend to use it on the weekends when we have lots of shopping and errands to do during the day. If I am organised enough to get it all ready and in the pot in time we can go about our daily routine and still have a lovely meal, especially if we pop up the road to the local pub for a glass or two!!

It's really simple to make a beef stew.  I wanted to use up some carrrot slices and sliced green pepper left over from a My Secret Kitchen food tasting the previous day too.  The only ingredient I had to cut up was a medium red onion which I sliced thinly.

Cut the beef into small cubes if they have not already come cut up.  In a medium sized plastic bag 1/2 cup of plain flour and seasoning and put the meat into the bag.  Holding the bag shut shake it around until the meat is all covered with flour.

Heat up a couple of tablespoons of sunflower or rapeseed oil and fry the meat until it is browned. I added some grated ginger and garlic to give it a bit of an excotic end taste too. Then put it in the slow cooking pot.

I then put the vegetables into the pot and cooked until they were all coated in the oil and transferred the veggies to the cooking pot.

When all the meat and vegetables have been transferred to the slow cooker pot I added one beef stock cube and one beef oxo cube disolved in a mug of boiling water and 2-3 Tbsp of worcester sauce and 1 Tbsp of ketchup.  Give it all a good stir and leave slow cooking for approx 6-7 hours.

I planned to serve the stew with boiled baby potatoes and cauliflower cheese.

Anyone can make a good cheese sauce (butter, flour, salt/pepper, milk and cheddar cheese) but do you want to know how to make a great one?  When the cheese has melted add about 1/3 of a camembert or wedge of brie, 1/2 tsp english mustard and a serious good glug of dry white wine.  This will be an outstanding cheese sauce.  Pour over the cooked cauliflower, grate a bit of cheese over the top and put in the over to brown a bit.

Then all that is left is to serve the meal along with a couple of glasses of crisp, dry, chilled white wine.  Cheers!!

Monday, 16 April 2012

Too Much Month at the end of the Money!!!

Mmmmmm - that dinner was really good! 

Do you ever get too much month left at the end of the money? I do for one reason and another so I have decided to try to make meals out of what we have in the house for the next week or so.

So to the freezer to start with.  I took out the two wild haddock fillets I had left over from my Fish is the Dish post.  The haddock had come from Delishfish from Peterhead in Scotland ( via Fish is the Dish (

I wanted to use up lots of little bits and pieces in the fridge so I grated a couple of small pieces of cheddar cheese and crumbled into the cheese three slices of My Secret Kitchen ( Beer Bread from an event I did the day before.

I then added about 4-5 Tbsp of mayonnaise that I had mixed with My Secret Kitchen Saffron Tagine Paste (I had mixed the two together in a ratio of 2:1 for the tasting event the day before and had some left over).

and mixed into the cheese-bread crumb mixture so that it just held together

I had frozen the fish fillets the day they arrived but didn't need to thaw them completely before assembling the dish.  I just placed the fillets in a casserole dish.

I spread the cheesy-bread crumb mixture over the fillets and lightly pressed it to cover.  Some little bits of butter on top to help the crumbs crisp in the oven.  Bake for about 25 minutes at 185 degree fan oven.

It smelled good and I was really pleased with the outcome.

This meal would have fed up to 4 people but Mr R liked it so much he had seconds!  I served the fish with lemon basmati rice and freshly cooked beetroot. 

Yummm - quick, easy and healthy - just shows what you can make for dinner with a little imagination and a lot of bits and pieces in the fridge/freezer.

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Cuisinart - Soup Maker

I have loved the look of the Cuisinart Soup Maker since I first saw it but felt the price tag of £125-£132 (depending on where I saw it) was a bit too steep to justify buying something that I really didn't have counter space for and didn't have any idea of how often I would use it.

Well, recently I was lucky enough to be sent the Soup Maker from Cuisinart's PR agency (  ) to try and to give a write up on here.

I must say that I really love this piece of equipment which has a permanent situation on my kitchen work top now - surprising how much you think you need on display until you need the space for such a thing of beauty!  Saturday or Sunday has since become 'Soup Day' when I take out all the vegetables and anything else in the fridge that I want to use up before going shopping to re-stock for the coming week. I have now made half a dozen batches since I received the soup maker and each one seems to get better and better.

The most recent soup that I made last weekend, I started with sauteed onions, garlic, celery (all chopped into little pieces), then began a search of the fridge and added, carrots, cherry tomatoes, the celery top leafs, a vegetable stock cube, a vegetable oxo cube, 1/2 tin of chopped tomatoes, a few glugs of L&P worcestershire sauce 1/2 jar My Secret Kitchen Tapenade ( and topped up to the line marked on the outside of the glass jug.  I pressed the 'stir' button every 5-8 minutes to keep the mixture moving and when I thought it was ready turned the blender knob to the first position which leave the mixture thick but not too creamy.

It so easy to use this soup maker - it melts the butter or warms the oil, sautees the onions, garlic and celery,

starts to colour the remaining vegetables, brings the soup to a boil, simmers, stirs from time to time and purees the soup in the same glass jug with the minimum of personal intervention.  You set the timer for how long you wish each task to take, for instance high heat (boil) for 15 minutes then simmer for another 15 minutes.

I often add one or two potatoes, peeled and chopped, to add to the final texture. Potatoes add a creaminess and smoothness to the final dish.

You can also make sauces, jams and loads more recipes out of the little cook book that comes with the soup maker.  It is also a blender for cold liquids. I served the soup with home made garlic baguettes and bakes cammenbert for a lovely, warming lunch after some much needed gardening!

Mr R loves homemade soup for his lunches at work which means that each weekend a new batch of soup is created for the following week (you can of course put some in the freezer for a day when you don't have anything for lunch).  There are so many vegetable combinations that it will be ages before I start adding meat and fish to my weekend creations! Think I need to use some parsnip in the next batch!