Friday, 10 August 2018

Spicy Beef Conchiglie Pasta

Conchiglie pasta in a spicy beef sauce with fresh Parmesan cheese

A dish simply described as pasta in a beef based tomato sauce will almost inevitably have most people thinking of spag bol. While this is entirely understandable, it is a great shame as there are so many different types of pasta out there and so many ways in which a beef based tomato sauce can be adapted to incorporate a whole range of different flavours. This conchiglie pasta in spicy beef sauce is just one simple example of this adaptation.

Beef is added to a pot and seasoned

Ingredients (Serves 2)

1/2 pound minced/ground beef
1 tablespoon vegetable or sunflower oil
Salt and black pepper
1/2 medium sized red onion
1/4 each of red, green and yellow bell peppers
1 large garlic clove
14 ounce can chopped tomatoes in tomato juice
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
Splash of Tabasco sauce (optional)
2 coffee mugs of dried conchiglie pasta
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese to garnish

Beef is carefully browned over a medium heat


Pour a little vegetable or sunflower oil in to a large pot, just to start the beef off before the fat starts melting. Add the beef and put the pot on to a low to medium heat. Use a wooden spoon to break the beef up and stir it around. As the fat is slowly released, the heat can be increased until all the beef is evenly browned.

Onion, peppers and garlic are added to browned beef

Slice the onion half thinly and add it to the beef along with the seeded and diced peppers. Peel the garlic clove and finely dice before also adding this to the pot. Stir around for a couple of minutes over a low to medium heat, just until the onion is starting to soften and glisten.

Tomatoes and spice are added to browned beef and vegetables

Pour the tomatoes in to the pot and add the smoked paprika. If using the Tabasco sauce, add a few drops at this stage but do be careful - it is potent and powerful stuff!

Spicy beef sauce is brought to a gentle simmer

Stir the tomatoes and spices in to the sauce and bring to a very gentle simmer for fifteen to twenty minutes.

Cooked and drained conchiglie pasta is added to spicy beef sauce

The pasta should be added to a large pot of heavily salted water to simmer for seven or eight minutes. It should then be drained and allowed to steam off and dry out. When the sauce is ready, tip the pasta in to the sauce pot.

Conchiglie pasta is carefully stirred through beef sauce

Use a wooden spoon to gently stir the pasta through the sauce before spooning the combination in to two serving plates and garnishing with some freshly grated Parmesan cheese.

Conchiglie pasta in spicy beef sauce is plated

Friday, 3 August 2018

Lambs Liver with Twice Baked Potato

Lambs liver with minted twice potatoes, carrots and Brussels sprouts

Mint sauce is a well established accompaniment to lambs liver but this recipe takes the pairing of lamb and mint that one step further by also incorporating mint in the starch element of the dish in the form of a twice baked potato.

Ingredients (Serves 1)

1 medium to large baking potato
Generous pinch dried mint
4 or 5 Chantenay carrots
4 or 5 Brussels sprouts
3 medium slices lambs liver
Black pepper
Vegetable oil for frying
Mint sauce

Potato is skewered for baking


Put your oven on to preheat to 220C/450F/Gas Mark 8.

Wash the potato well and dry with kitchen paper. Take a metal skewer and carefully insert it through the middle of the potato long ways as shown. The metal skewer conducts heat to the centre of the potato and makes for more even cooking. Pierce the potato several times with a fork to allow steam to escape during cooking.

Foil wrapped potato is ready for the oven

Wrap the potato carefully in tinfoil and twist the ends. Sit it on a baking tray and bake for one hour to one hour and fifteen minutes, depending upon the size of the potato, just so as it is cooked all the way through.

Halved baked potato

Take the potato from the oven but don't switch the oven off - you will need it for the second part of the cooking process. Protecting your hands with oven gloves, unwrap the potato and pull the skewer free. If the potato is cooked, the skewer should easily come out. Cut the potato in half length ways with a very sharp knife.

Flesh is scooped out of potato halves

A teaspoon is best used to scoop most of the flesh from each potato half and add it to a small mixing bowl. You want to leave to half shells around an even half inch thick. Add about one ounce (1/4 stick) of butter to the potato flesh along with the pinch of dried mint and some salt. Mix well to combine.

Buttered and seasoned filling is scooped back in to potato halves

Divide the potato flesh mix between the two skin cups and spread out evenly. Try to leave the top slightly uneven with peaks to let them crisp up as they cook. Return to the oven for twenty more minutes.

Chantenay carrots are put on to reach a boil

Wash and top the carrots and add them to a pot of cold, salted water. Bring to a simmer for fifteen minutes.

Brussels sprouts are added to partly cooked carrots

When the carrots have been simmering for five minutes, add the washed and trimmed sprouts to simmer with them for the final ten minutes.

Seasoned lambs liver is added to heated frying pan

Carefully wash the liver and pat dry with clean kitchen paper. Season on both sides with salt and pepper. Bring a little oil up to a medium heat in a non-stick frying pan and add the liver to fry for three or four minutes on their first side, depending upon thickness.

Liver is turned in frying pan to fry on second side

Turn the liver slices to fry for a similar length of time on their second sides.

Butter is added to drained sprouts and carrots

Drain the carrots and sprouts through a colander at your sink and return to the empty pot. Add a little butter and gently swirl the pot to ensure even cooking. Plate the meal components and finish off with a teaspoon or two of mint sauce on top of the lambs liver.

Liver, baked potato, carrots and sprouts are arranged on serving plate