Monday, October 25, 2010

Beef and guinness stew with a twist

A given dish on the menu this time of the year is stew. I love hearty, slow cooked food with flavours one can remember and long for even during the summer months. Lucky for me it is October and that means at least one day a week a lovely stew is cooked and put on our dinner table. Beef and guinness stew is very common over here in ireland and it is lovely but maybe not exciting enough for me so last week I cooked some sort of fusion dish: Beef and guiness stew/Chili con Carne. Basically it is stewing meat and stout as a base mixed with the lovely spcies traditionally used when cooking Chili con Carne. A proper recipe is hard to give cause it was bit of an improvised dish but the result was lovely...I think this recipe here will do!

400 grams beef, stew pieces
100 grams black forrest ham/ smoked streaky bacon
1 large white onion
2 peppers, red and yellow
3 cloves of garlic
1/2 red chili, no seeds
4tbsp tomato pure
500ml guiness
100ml beef stock
2tsp cumin
2tsp paprika powder
1tsp ground cinnamon
1tsp dried oregano
1 bay leaf
3tbsp vegetable oil
salt and pepper

Chop onion, peppers, chili and garlic finely. Cut the bacon or ham into thin strips.
Fry the vegetables and spices in 2 tbsp of oil for 5min in a frying pan. Transfer the vegetables and spices into a pot. Add tomato pure, bay leaf and guiness and slowly start to simmer.
Fry the meat and ham/bacon in remaining oil in the same pan as you cooked the vegetables in, season with salt and pepper.
Add the meat to the vegetables and pour the beef stock in to the frying pan and bring to the boil, whisk the bottom of the pan to release all left over juices and spices. Add the liquid to the meat and vegetables, bring to the boil. Lower the heat and let simmer for at least two hours or until the meat falls apart and the vegetables are soft and mushy.

Serve with a dollop of sour cream and potatoes or rice.

English chocolate fudge

There is a few recipes that I promised never to give away but some promises can be broken if one starts a food blog and feel very giving in the autumn darkness. A couple of weeks ago I made these lovely treats that I have eaten for as long as I can remember, due to the recipe being from my grandmother. And if she did not make them it was my mum, and eventually myself. Home made English fudge is nothing like what you buy in the shop, no this is proper treats made with butter and cream, no way near a healthy option, just simply delicious, melt in the mouth chocolates...

Use salted butter, it is neccessary to break the rich and sweet flavour.

250 grams caster sugar
200ml heavy cream
30 grams butter
1tbsp vanilla sugar
3tbsp cocoa powder

In a pot combine all ingredients and let melt on a low heat. Bring to the boil and continue to simmer while stirring occaisonally.
The mix needs to reach "hard ball" temeprature wich is around 120C. I have never used a thermometer while making fudge, I just put a small bit of the mix into a glass of cold water. If the mix sets enough for you to make a little ball that keeps the shape, the mix is ready.
With a wooden spoon whisk virgously until the fudge has gone paler in colour and starts to change in texture, it should feel "sugary" when you taste it. Pour the mix onto a tray with baking paper on and let cool down before cutting into small squares with a sharp knife. When completely cold store in an airtight jar in the fridge.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Cornflakes in chocolate fudge...

This is the Swedish version of rice crispies treats; cornflakes+chocolate...well this recipe is a little bit more complicated than that, but still very easy to make. I remember the first recipe I ever tried was just equal amouns of honey, butter and cocoapowder put in a bowl in the microwave for a minute or so, then a couple of handfulls of cornflakes were covered in the chocolate mix. Later in life I discovered this recipe and wont go back!

50 grams butter
80 grams caster sugar
2tbsp golden syrup
2tbsp cocoa powder


Melt butter, sugar, syrup and cocoapowder on low heat in a pot. Bring to the boil and let simmer for 1min. Take off the heat and add enough cornflakes to be covered in the chocolate mix. Spoon the mix into little muffins cups and let set in the fridge before eating.

White loaf

Here is a very simple and quick recipe for just normal, plain white bread. It may sound a little boring for someone who likes sour dough and healthy options when it comes to bread baking but trust me, this is delicious. My mum made this when I was young and she would divide the dough into 3 pieces and braid a loaf and sprinkle with poppy seeds, very pretty. I decided to just make an oval shaped loaf with a little decorative swirl on top. This recipe makes two loafes.

50 grams fresh yeast/ 14grams dried
50 grams butter
500ml milk
2tsp salt
1tsp sugar
750 grams strong white flour

1 egg
sesame seeds or poppy seeds

Melt butter and add milk, check that the temeparature is correct for the yeast you are using (37C for fresh, 45C for dried yeast). Dissolve yeast in the milk and butter mix, add sugar and salt. Add enough flour in to the liquid until you have a firm dough. Kned the dough by hand for about 5min. Let the dough prove under a damp cloth for 40min or until double in size.

Divide the dough into 2 pieces, take a little of each piece and save for decoration. Shape two oval loafes and decorate with the left over dough. Let prove again for about 30min.

Heat your oven up to 225C.

Brush the loafes with a whisked egg and sprinkle seeds on top. Bake for 25min, or until the bread is golden and feels light.