Friday, 28 December 2012

Hot Spicy Beef and Tomato Naan Bread Sandwich with Homemade Fries

Spicy beef and tomato stew is folded in a  naan bread and served with fries

This hot and spicy dish is the perfect warming meal for a cold night in the depths of Winter. It also provides a welcome change at this time of year from the possible monotony of leftover turkey, goose or ham. Although the stew takes a few hours to prepare in total, the good news is that it can very easily be prepared one night, cooled and refrigerated to be heated through the following night. The quantities in this recipe are for two people.

Shin of beef


3/4lb shin of beef (or other suitable stewing beef)
1 tbsp vegetable or sunflower oil
1 green bell pepper
2 small shallots
1 large clove of garlic
14oz can of chopped tomatoes in tomato juice
1 tbsp tomato puree/paste
1 pint fresh beef stock
1 tsp dried chilli flakes
Few drops of Tabasco sauce (be very careful not to add too much!)
Salt and black pepper
2 naan breads
2oz sweetfire chilli and jalapeno cheddar cheese (or similar spicy cheese)
Homemade fries or chips to serve

Vegetables and spices for beef and tomato stew


It's worth pointing out that although the naan breads used on this occasion were bought from the supermarket in a vacuum pack, homemade naan breads are a lot easier to prepare than you may think. If you have the time, of course, and are feeling a little bit adventurous, why not give them a go?

Prepared vegetables for stew

Begin by chopping the shin of beef in to one inch chunks. Deseed the bell pepper and slice in to strips. Peel and finely slice the shallots and garlic.

Shin of beef is browned in a little oil

Put the oil in to a large stew pot and add the beef. Season with black pepper. Brown and seal the beef over a medium heat, stirring all the time with a wooden spoon.

Vegetables are briefly sauteed with the beef

When the beef is sealed, add the green pepper, shallots, garlic and chilli flakes and saute for a further couple of minutes.

Spicy beef and tomato stew

Pour the tomatoes and beef stock in to the pot. Add the tomato puree or paste and stir well. Bring to a gentle simmer and cook uncovered for two and a half to three hours, until the beef is mouth-wateringly tender, stirring occasionally. If necessary, add a little boiling water if the stew is becoming too thick or dry. Taste for seasoning and adjust as required. It's a good idea to leave the addition of the Tabasco sauce to this point and stir well and taste after the addition of each few drops.

Sweetfire chilli and jalapeno pepper cheddar cheese

This cheese is one I found in my local Morrisons supermarket and was deliciously spicy. If you can't find this particular variety, try to get one that contains some form of peppers or chillies but it's not of course essential.

Beef and tomato stew is spooned on to the wider half of the naan bread

If using premade naan breads, reheat them per the instructions on the pack. These ones required to be sprinkled with cold water and heated for one minute each side under a hot grill/broiler. Lay the broad end of the naan breads on the edge of your serving plates and spoon on the stew. Crumble the cheese and scatter over the stew before carefully folding over the second half of the naan and adding the fries to the plate.

Spicy cheddar cheese is crumbled over beef and tomato stew

Monday, 17 December 2012

Scottish Roll and Sausage Club Sandwich

Scottish roll and sausage club sandwich with crisps and pickled onions

What is a club sandwich? There is no doubt that many reading this will think that a strange question - but the truth is, I was under a complete misapprehension until (very!) recently. Although I have heard club sandwiches referred to countless times in American TV shows or movies and read about them in American novels, for years I didn't understand the meaning. I was honestly under the impression that they referred to the particular restaurant's speciality sandwich, a bit like, "Dish of the day," or the, "House red." Via the wonders of Google and Wikipedia, I now know that it is essentially a sandwich comprised of at least three slices of toasted bread and two layers of filling.

I got to thinking therefore about how I could create a slightly different club sandwich that would be fairly quick to make, at least partly true to the original concept yet have its own distinct identity and could be made to form a reasonably substantial dinner. I finally decided to blend the fabulous concept that is the Scottish roll and sausage with the American club sandwich and see how it turned out. A Scottish roll and sausage is comprised of a morning roll, filled with a Lorne sausage (sometimes called sliced sausage or square sausage). There are frequently many other components added to the combination but in this instance, I of course used recognised club sandwich ingredients. Instead of using both turkey and bacon, I improvised and used turkey bacon. I also used delicious peashoots instead of the frequently bland (especially at this time of year) lettuce.

If you're not in Scotland and don't have ready access to Lorne sausages, you do actually still have quite a few viable options. You can buy them online from many different suppliers, you can buy the spice mix from Amazon UK (see below) and make them yourself with a combination of minced/ground beef and pork, or you can simply substitute them for burger patties as a last resort. 

Principal Scottish club sandwich ingredients

Ingredients per Serving

1 bread/morning roll
1 Lorne sausage
2 rashers/slices of turkey bacon
Small handful of peashoots
1 medium slice of tomato
1 tsp mayonnaise
Little vegetable oil for frying
Sea salt and black pepper (or flavour of choice) crisps/potato chips to serve
2 large pickled onions (optional)

Scottish morning roll is sliced in to three sections


It's a good idea to begin by doing the few small bits of necessary prep before you start cooking. Very carefully, slice the bread roll in to three equally thick pieces. Slice the tomato. A good point to note with the peashoots and other vacuum packed supermarket greens is to always wash them well in a colander under running cold water. Sometimes, the pack will say that they are washed and ready to eat but never take that for granted. You may also want to roughly chop the peashoots to make the club sandwich easier to assemble.

Lorne sausage and turkey rashers are gently fried in oil

Put a little oil in to a frying pan and bring it up to a medium heat. Add the sausage only and fry gently on the first side for four or five minutes. Turn the sausage before adding the turkey rashers, which will take a couple of minutes each side.

Scottish club sandwich fillings are ready

Lift the cooked sausage and turkey rashers to a plate with the prepared peashoots and tomato. Toast the three roll slices lightly under the grill or broiler.

Peashoots form the first layer of the Scottish club sandwich

Begin assembling the club sandwich by laying the peashoots on top of the bottom section of the roll.

Lorne sausage and mayo are added on top of the peashoots

Put the sausage on top of the peashoots, followed by the mayo and the middle section of the bread roll.

Turkey rashers and tomato form the second layer of the Scottish club sandwich

Lay the bacon rashers on next with the slice of tomato on top.

Fully assembled roll and sausage club sandwich

Crown the club sandwich with the last piece of the bread roll.

Roll and sausage club sandwich is carefully cut in half

Press down lightly and cut the sandwich in half with a very sharp knife.

Cocktail sticks are used to hold the Scottish club sandwich halves together

Club sandwiches are often served with a cocktail/hors d'oeuvres stick to hold them together. This is optional - but if using them, do remember to remove them before taking a large bite! Plate the club sandwich halves, add the crisps/potato chips and the pickled onions if required.

Scottish roll and sausage club sandwich with crisps

Friday, 30 November 2012

Boiled Brisket of Beef with Roast Potatoes and Trimmed Green Beans

Brisket of beef, roast potatoes and trimmed green beans

Boiled beef does not immediately sound particularly appetising. There is perhaps an automatic perception that the beef will be bland in taste and probably dry in texture. This definitely need not be the case, however, provided the right cut of beef is selected and it is cooked appropriately. Brisket is a great piece of beef to boil and in this instance was not only delicious to eat, but perfectly moist and tender. I chose not to serve gravy with the beef on this occasion (almost a crime in the eyes of many people - I know!) and gravy could of course be included if you wish but instead I served it with a fairly recent discovery for me, Beetroot, Apple and Horseradish Chutney. See the bottom of this post for more details on this ultra tasty creation.

Ingredients (Serves 2 to 4)

2lb piece of beef brisket
1 medium white onion
2 medium carrots
2 sticks of celery
1 tsp whole black peppercorns
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp dried thyme or 4 fresh sprigs
Baby new potatoes as required
Green beans as required
Beetroot, apple and horseradish chutney

Rolled brisket of beef


Put the beef in to a large soup or stock pot. Wash the carrots and celery, top and tail and roughly chop. Peel and quarter the onion. Add the vegetables to the pot along with the seasonings and pour in enough cold water to ensure the beef is comfortably covered (approximately 5 or 6 pints).

Vegetables for poaching with beef brisket

Prepared vegetables for poaching with beef brisket

Put the pot on a high heat until the water boils. Reduce the heat to achieve the gentlest possible simmer, cover and leave to cook in this way for two and a half to three hours, until the beef is tender.

Beef brisket, vegetables and seasonings are added to a large stock pot

Wash but don't peel the potatoes. Add them to a pot of cold salted water, bring it to a boil and simmer for twenty minutes. Drain the potatoes, return them to the pot and let them steam for around five minutes to get rid of the excess moisture. Cover and leave to cool completely.

Green beans are trimmed before being blanched

When the beef is cooked, carefully remove it from the liquid with a carving fork and large slotted spoon or spatula to a plate. Cover it and leave it to rest and cool for at least twenty minutes.

Peel the skins from the potatoes by hand. They should be roasted in hot oil for about five or six minutes until crisp and golden. It may well be that you have bought your beans already trimmed but if not, trim the ends and blanche them in boiling salted water for five minutes.

Boiled and cooled potatoes are peeled for roasting

When you come to carve the beef, don't try to cut it too thinly or you are likely to see it break down and essentially crumble. Cut nice thick slices and arrange on the serving plates.

Brisket of beef is carefully carved

Drain the potatoes on kitchen paper, the beans through a colander and plate with the beef. Finish off with the Beetroot, Apple and Horseradish chutney.

Beef brisket is plated with roast potatoes and green beans

I found this chutney in my local supermarket when looking for something totally different. If you can't find it in yours, it is currently available on both Amazon and Amazon UK. I hope you get the chance to give it a try.

Beetroot, apple and horseradish chutney

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Winter Warmer One Pot Beef and Root Vegetable Stew

Beef and root vegetable stew is garnished with fresh parsley

Winter is already starting to bite for many of us and the days of summer salads for dinner are pretty much over for another year. It is more likely to be a hot, hearty meal you crave for dinner when the nights are dark and cold and although this stew does take a few hours in total to prepare, there is very little hands-on prep required and everything is simply cooked in the one large pot. You could of course even prepare this stew in your slow cooker or crockpot, leaving it to gently simmer away while you are at work. A further alternative would be to prepare the stew one night, let it cool, then refrigerate it in an appropriate container that it only takes a few minutes to gently reheat for dinner the following night.
Principal ingredients for beef and root vegetable stew

Ingredients (Serves Two)

3/4lb diced stewing beef
2 medium potatoes
1 small Swede turnip/rutabaga
2 medium carrots
1 small onion
1 small leek
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp dried thyme
Salt and pepper
2 pints homemade beef stock
Chopped parsley to garnish

Vegetables are sliced and chopped for adding to beef stew


Start by preparing the vegetables. The onion should be peeled, halved and sliced. The carrots, potatoes and Swede/rutabaga should be peeled and roughly chopped. The stem only of the leek should be washed and sliced in to quarter inch thick discs.

Beef for stew is firstly browned in a large pot

Put the olive oil in to a large pot and bring it up to a medium heat. Add the beef only and stir it around with a wooden spoon until it is evenly browned and sealed.

Vegetables and seasonings are stirred through the browned beef

Add all the vegetables, the thyme and some salt and pepper to the browned beef and continue to stir over a medium heat for a couple of minutes.

Beef stock is added to the browned beef and vegetables

Pour the beef stock in to the beef and vegetables and turn up the heat until the stock reaches a simmer. Reduce the heat to maintain a gentle simmer, cover and cook for two and a half hours or until the beef is tender.

Beef and root vegetable stew is ready to serve

When the stew is ready, taste it for seasoning and adjust where required, turn off the heat and leave it to rest for fifteen minutes. Ladle in to two deep serving plates and garnish with the chopped parsley.

Beef and root vegetable stew is ladled in to serving plates

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Homemade Venison Game Pie

Red deer venison game pie is served with homemade chips and garden peas

A game pie is very often - or perhaps even most often - made with a variety of three or more different types of wild game. That does not mean for a second, however, that an excellent game pie can not be made with just one type of wild game. In this instance, advantage was taken of a really good deal obtained on Scottish red deer venison and the pie was delicious. This recipe will work with any type of venison, from moose, to caribou to roe deer.

Ingredients for Two Servings

3/4lb chopped venison haunch
Olive oil
2 medium carrots
1 medium onion
1 tsp dried thyme
Salt and pepper
1 pint fresh beef stock
1/2 bottle red wine*
1/2lb puff pastry
Flour for rolling the pastry
Beaten egg for glazing the pastry
Homemade chips/French fries as required
Frozen garden peas as required

* Do you get confused about which type of red wine you should use in your cooking? I have heard some top chefs say that only the cheapest of red wine should be used in cooking (to save money) but equally, I have heard other top chefs say that only quality red wine that you would really enjoy drinking should be used. If top chefs can't agree, how can we be expected to judge? Personally, I tend to go somewhere between the two. You don't want to use a wine that is of such poor quality that you couldn't possibly force yourself to drink it - but equally, why waste the good stuff that is far better consumed straight from a glass? The bottom line is that it's all down to personal taste, as well as the nature of the dish you are making. In this particular instance, it doesn't really matter - go with what you can afford and what you prefer and don't get too hung up on the issue. 

Vension is quickly browned in a little olive oil


Add a tablespoon or so of olive oil (a good glug, is the technical term!) to a large pot and gently heat. Add the diced venison and brown and seal, stirring with a wooden spoon. This will take a couple of minutes.

Carrot, onion and seasoning is added to the browned venison

Peel the carrots and onion. Slice the carrots in to discs. Half the onions and finely slice. Add the vegetables and thyme to the venison and season. Stir for a further minute or so.

Red wine and beef stock are added to the venison and vegetables

Pour the stock in to the pot along with the red wine. Bring to a simmer and cook in this way for two hours, stirring occasionally and carefully keeping your eye on the liquid level. If your simmer is gentle enough, it should be fine, but you can top up with a little hot water if necessary. After two hours, try a small bit of the venison - it should be beautifully tender. Turn off the heat, cover and leave to cool completely. (This will take around another couple of hours but note that the meat combination could now be refrigerated to assemble the pie for dinner the following evening).
Venison and stock ready to be topped with pastry for the pie

Put the meat and stock in to a pie dish, measuring 9" by 6". The stock should almost but not quite cover the meat.

Rolling the pastry for the venison game pie

Roll out your pastry on a clean, dry, floured surface to about 10" by 7", so that it will be slightly larger than the pie dish. Lay it carefully on top of the dish and crimp and tuck the edges.

Venison game pie is ready for the oven

Glaze the pie with beaten egg, using a pastry brush. Remember also to cut a steam vent in the centre. Lay it on a roasting tray (helps prevent possible spillage necessitating an oven clean) and bake in the oven, preheated to 400F/200C, for around 40 minutes, until the pastry is beautifully risen and golden.

Venison game pie removed from the oven

When you take your pie from the oven, don't cut it for service immediately. Remember, meat should be rested after cooking, whether it be a roast or a pie like this. Set it aside for fifteen minutes.

Plating the meat of the venison game pie

Cut the pastry of the pie in half and remove to a temporary holding plate. Use a slotted spoon to divide the meat between two serving plates and top with the pastry. Serve with your homemade chips/fries and the frozen peas cooked as per the instructions on the packet.

Pastry is added to the venison game pie filling