Beef Stroganoff

Firstly, apologies for the lack of photos – I forgot!

This was a last-minute beef stroganoff request from my fiancé. It’s really easy to whip up though, so don’t panic.

Start by finely chopping an onion and sweating in some olive oil in a saucepan, along with three crushed cloves of garlic. When nicely softened, throw in some skirt steak or frying steak, that has been cut into bite-sized pieces and allow to brown.

Then squeeze in a good amount of tomato puree, before adding beef stock, red wine stock and some Marmite, along with some cornflour. Give the mix a good stir, put the lid on and allow to simmer at a low heat for around 15 minutes, before adding some paprika, mixed herbs, Worcestershire sauce, horseradish sauce, wholegrain mustard and English mustard. As you know by now, I’m not really one for measuring things, so just try and see how it turns out. You can always add more of an ingredient. Stir every now and then to make sure nothing catches on the bottom of the pan. Have to confess, I also added a splash of brandy.

Allow everything to simmer for around 45 minutes, then taste to see if anything is missing. Now you can add some chopped mushrooms and a small tub of soured cream, before allowing to cook for around another half an hour.

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Serve with some boiled rice and if you fancy, as I did, a little grated Parmesan cheese.

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Vegetable Soup

I love whipping up a soup. It’s so easy, you near enough just throw everything in a pan and let it take care of itself.

I had a mountain of veg that was just crying out to be used up.

Very simply, I peeled and very roughly chopped:

2 small potatoes
a handful of carrots
a red onion
a white onion
a cabbage
a good handful of sprouts
2 leeks

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I add the potato as a thickening agent. Otherwise, any veggies you have begging, just throw them in! I also put in a chicken stock pot (use veggie stock if you’re keeping it all vegetarian), some course black pepper, paprika, onion salt and dried basil.

Top up the pot with water and allow to simmer until all the veggies are soft, then liquidise to your liking with either a handheld whizzy thing, or blender.

Once smooth, I allow some blue cheese to melt in. Again this is optional, depending on your taste or dietary requirements.

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Lamb & Apricot Stew With Dumplings

It’s certainly the weather for winter warmers. I’ve seen friends posting that snow has arrived in parts of the UK and where I am, it is freezing today.

With that, I wanted to share a lovely lamb stew, that I cooked up the other day. I must apologise that we were so hungry, I completely forgot to take a photo of it on the plate all served up, but if you make it, you’ll see for yourself!! This is best made the day before you want to eat it.

I found some really lovely looking lamb neck in the butcher, so I started by just browning the meat in the bottom of a deep saucepan, before removing it to a plate and adding some oil to the pan, followed by a couple of small chopped red onions, three cloves of minced garlic and a chopped leek.

In a frying pan, dry roast a cinnamon stick and three cloves for round a minute or so, just to help release the flavour, then add them into the pan with the softening veggies. Stir in a good splodge of tomato puree, before returning the meat and any juices to the pan, along with two bay leaves.

Pour in enough chicken, vegetable or lamb stock to cover the meat and bring the pan to a low simmer, before putting the lid on. Give it a good hour or so, stirring occasionally, before throwing in some chopped mushrooms and covering again. I let mine have a slow cook for around 3-4 hours, stirring every now and then and checking to make sure there was still enough stock in there. To help thicken the sauce, I added a few teaspoons of cornflour and mixing it in well.

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Once the meat is nice and tender and trying to fall off the bone, turn off the heat and leave the stew to cool overnight. The next day, you’ll notice a layer of fat on the top of the stew, which you can skim off quite easily with a spoon.

Add in a tin – yes, a tin! – of apricot halves and the juices and re-heat the stew to a low simmer again and give it another hour or so to heat through properly. At this point, I like to remove the bones, spices and bay leaves. Mum always added the tinned fruit, so I’m sticking with it!

When you have 20minutes left, mix up 250g self raising flour with 140g cold butter, cut into cues and a good handful of mixed dried herbs. You want the mix to resemble breadcrumbs, before adding a splash of water and mixing together with a table knife. Keep adding splashes of water, until you form a sticky dough. Take small pinches and roll them into balls, before popping them in the top of the stew for your dumplings.

You can either serve just with the dumplings, or boil up some rice and have the stew with that – or even some mashed potatoes.