recipes for healthy living

Tag: winter

Casseroles – Perfect comfort food for this cold weather

The weather has turned cold and although we don’t have the blanket of snow we had this time last year, thoughts still turn to the right kind of food when there is a chill in the air. Casseroles are the perfect comfort food whether it is beef, lamb or pork, since you are in the house anyhow, are really easy. Just brown your meat, add your veg and liquid and then into the oven until it is meltingly tender. I always make twice the recipe below and freeze one batch for a day when I’m feeling really lazy. This weekend we were having a gang over so I made it with rib of beef and it was delicious. I took all the veg out and reduced the sauce to make the dish a little more refined. Served with a gratin of Swede and sweet potato, buttered carrots and Savoy cabbage with lardons, the dish was delicious and all the plates were practically licked clean. To test that the meat is done, after about 1.5 hours I take a piece of meat out on to a chopping board. If I can pull it apart easily it is done, if not back into the oven.

Oven at 150 Deg Fan
Serves 6

3 lbs rib of beef cut into 2” chunks.
(Alternatively you could use lamb shoulder or pork)
Oil for frying
3 carrots peeled and chopped
3 Shallots peeled and roughly chopped
5 garlic cloves crushed
1 bunch thyme (and rosemary if using lamb)
2 tins chopped tomatoes
1 bay leaf
13 fl oz veal stock if using beef or lamb stock (if you have it) when using beef
110ml red wine
3 handfuls Flat leaf parsley chopped finely

In heavy pan heat the oil over high heat until smoking and add your seasoned meat in batches and sear until caramelised on all sides. Remember brown = flavour so do brown all sides. Remove from the pan and set aside.
Add the vegetables, garlic and herbs, season and cook for 5 minutes until the shallots are slightly translucent. Moderate the heat under the pot if it gets too hot.
Add the wine and reduce until a glaze.
Return the meat to the pot and add the chopped tomatoes and stock.
Bring to the boil and transfer to preheated oven or cook at a gently simmer on the hob (covered) for about 1.5 hours. Keep cooking if not meltingly tender as I describe above. Do check from time to time and remove any scum which rises to the top of your cooking pot. You can serve with the veg it cooks in, however I like to strain the cooking liquid, reserving the meat pieces only. Reduce the meat sauce on the hob by boiling uncovered until it is a consistency I like. Then I return the meat to the pot and if needed bring meat up to hot temperature and serve. Sprinkle over some chopped flat leaf parsley just before serving.
If freezing some, spread it out on a flat tray to cool quickly and when cool pop into freezer bags, date and pop into the freezer to enjoy at a later stage. Im thinking this will be great on a day over Christmas when no one feels like doing any cooking.

3 delicious winter vegetable recipes

Veg Display

I wasn’t great on veg when I was younger but I think that was because the trend at the time was for a lot of ‘boiling the life’ out of a pot of vegetables and serving them fairly mushy. Thankfully that’s not the case anymore and now I do love most veg. This time of year all the great cabbages abound and Savoy and Red are two of my favourite. I also really love sweet potato and I often cook all three of these recipes but even one of them is lovely with your favourite meat or fish. My husband and daughter love these with a roast confit duck leg and their favourite gravy.

Braised red cabbage

This is a great recipe as you can just put everything into a lidded casserole and throw it into the oven. It takes a while to cook but is worth it –  A stir every new and then to make sure it isn’t sticking is all that is required. It has quite a bit of butter in it which gives it a lovely glossy sheen.

1 red cabbage – core it and shred it finely
3 or 4 apples – peeled cored and chopped finely
1 tsp ground cuimin
1 star anise
2 cloves
100g butter – chopped into about 5 or 6 pieces.
A few tablespoons of red, white or sherry vinegar
A squeeze of  juice- I use about ½ clementine at this time of year.

Preheat oven to 170 C
Combine all the ingredients and pack into a buttered heavy casserole dish. Put on the lid and pop into the oven. Bake for about 2 hours – check occasionally to stir and prevent anything sticking. When it is ready I usually remove the star anise and cloves so no one gets a surprise when eating it.

Sweet Potato Puree
This recipe can be made hot with a chilli if you like it. Cook the sweet potato with half a chill and include it in the blender. I usually omit if I’m doing it for my daughter.

Enough for 2
1 large sweet potato
Small bunch of coriander
30g butter
Olive Oil and tamari or light soy sauce to taste (about 1 tbsp each)

Peel the sweet potato and cut into rough pieces. Cover in a pot with enough cold water to cover, add pinch of salt and bring to the boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook for about 15 minutes until the potato is cooked. Drain and throw into the blender with butter and coriander- Remember to include the coriander stems also. Blend until smooth. If you have included the chilli you blend this also. Taste the puree and add olive oil and tamari together with some additional salt to season. Adjust to suit your taste and serve.

Stir Fried Savoy Cabbage
½ Savoy cabbage – enough for 2 or 3 servings.

2 clove garlic peeled, chopped and mashed
2 Tbsp Oil for stir frying or Duck Fat (If Im serving this with duck I usually stir fry it in some duck fat).

Remove the tough outer leaves and centre stalk from the cabbage
Pile the leaves one on top of each other, roll up like a cigar and finely slice
Blanch the cabbage in a pot of boiling salted water for about 4 minutes
Refresh in cold iced water and drain. This par cooks your cabbage so your don’t have to stir fry it long when preparing and you can have your cabbage prepared up to this point if you want to get it ready earlier.
Heat your oil or duck fat and when hot add the mashed garlic and stir fry for about 30 seconds. Add the drained cabbage, season with salt and stir fry until cooked through.
This will take a just a few minutes – Serve and enjoy.

Cauliflower and Potato Curry

A spiced cauliflower and potato curry is lovely and warming on these winter nights thanks to the fresh ginger and the addition of the green chili.
Fresh ginger adds a wonderful flavour and is full of circulatory stimulating antioxidants. Cumin is good for the digestion and Turmeric also part of the ginger family is associated with many benefits so lots in here good for you!

A note of caution is if you are less fond of too much warmth just leave out the seeds of the chili……

This dish is great on the side of your meat dish or just with some lentils or beans if you don’t fancy some meat and it is very easy to do

Serves 4
1 large Cauliflower – try romanesco for something different if you have it
.5 Lb Waxy potatoes
1 white onion chopped finely
a thumb size piece of fresh ginger peeled and finely chopped
1 Green chilli sliced finely with seeds if you are brave or without if you prefer
4 Tbsp vegetable oil or Ghee if you have it

1 tsp black mustard seeds
1 tsp ground Cumin
1 tsp cumin seeds
1.5 tsp Turmeric
Seasoning to taste

Cut cauliflower into florets and wash if necessary… not too small – bite size.
Peel the potatoes and cut into large chunks about 2″ square and cover them with salted water bring to the boil and boil for about 7 minutes and drain.
Heat the oil, add the onion and ginger and cook until golden brown – be careful not to burn, keep on a medium heat.
Add chili and spices and cook for 2 minutes stirring so it does not catch.
Add the potatoes and cauliflower stirring to coat well in the spices and onions. Season with salt and stir in about 4 tablespoons of water.
Cover and cook gently until tender. Check and add extra water if necessary – Be careful not to overcook as you don’t want mushy veggies!

Enjoy and let me know what you think.

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