Sunday, 18 January 2015

January Blues

Yesterday snowflakes were swirling in the air like ice-clad ballerinas and this evening, as I look out of the window I see a thick layer of ice coating the cars and pavement like fondant icing.
At this time of year, many people  embark on diets, eschewing carbohydrates, sugar and other comforts that make the dreary days and long, dark nights bearable. In this cold weather we need warming, comfort food. Why not make a delicious stew.  It takes very little effort, you can go and do something else while it is cooking in the oven.  My New Year's resolution is to dance more, so while my stew is cooking, I shall be dancing around my kitchen.


Serves 4

500g middle neck of lamb or stewing lamb                                                          
4 medium potatoes
4 carrots
1 onion
Pearl barley
salt and pepper

Large ovenproof casserole dish, approximately 1.5 litre, with lid

Preparation: 10 minutes
Cooking: 2 1/2 hours

1.   Cut meat into cubes, approximately 2cm.
2.    Peel and thinly slice the potatoes and put them in a bowl of cold water
      to remove some of the starch, then drain them off. 
3.   Peel and slice the onion and carrots.
4.   Put layers of meat, potatoes, onions and carrots, seasoning with pepper
      and finishing with a layer of potatoes. Pour in water to come halfway up
      the casserole dish and add 1 tablespoon of pearl barley.
5.  Put the lid on the dish and put stew into the oven at gas mark 3/170 for 2 hours.
6.  After 2 hours, remove the lid of the casserole and turn up the heat to
     gas 4/180 for 30 minutes to allow the top layer or potatoes to turn golden.

7.  Serve with some additional green vegetables.

Top tip
To save time, cook a double quantity and freeze half so you have a lovely homemade stew in your freezer.

Thursday, 1 January 2015

New Year

Happy New Year!   Some of you may be feeling jaded after all the recent festive feasting and you may have some food leftover.  Here is a simple recipe that uses leftover turkey, chicken or ham and makes a delicious and filling pie.


500g  cooked chicken, turkey and/or ham
1 onion, finely chopped
250g mushrooms
1 tbsp plain flour
250 ml chicken stock or milk
400g pack puff pastry
1 egg and/or milk, beaten lightly (egg wash)

Frying pan
Wooden spoon
Marble board
Rolling pin
Pie dish
Pastry brush

1.  Fry the onion and mushrooms in vegetable oil until lightly browned and
     Add the cooked meat.
2.  Sprinkle  the flour over the meat and gradually add the stock or milk,
     stirring all the time. If you have any leftover cream add 1 tablespoon for a
    more  creamy sauce. Season to taste.
3.   Flour a rolling pin and board and roll out half the  puff pastry  until it is larger   than the pie dish and use that to line the base and up the sides of the dish .  Brush  around the edge of the pie dish with milk/egg wash.
4.  Pour the filling into the pie.
5. Roll the other piece of pastry  out to make the pie lid and roll it carefully around the rolling pin and gently drape it  over the pie. Crimp the edges of the pastry together and trim off any excess. Use the trimmings to make leaves to decorate the pie and cut a small hole in the top of the pastry to allow the steam to escape.
7.  Brush the top of the pastry with egg wash and bake in the oven for  30
     minutes or until golden brown at 200c/400F/Gas 6.

8.  Serve with boiled or mashed potatoes and green vegetables.