Thursday, 29 October 2009

Seriously Good Stew

It's British Food Fortnight everyone!! Very exciting. In case you missed the original post, it's just all about getting involved with all the great seasonal ingredients around at the moment and celebrating British food. Sounds good, huh?

I thought I'd kick off with my absolute favorite beef stew in the whole wide world. Oh my word, this stew just makes the world a better place! Whenever I ask JJ what he'd like to cook for guests he always suggests this stew. Even in mid summer when I have to intervene and suggest that maybe, just maybe, people won't be in the mood for stew in 30 degree weather!

But it's definitely not summer here anymore and I'm loving dusting off all my comfort food recipes. Hearty squash soups, spiced apple cakes, crumbles and gingerbread. Definitely my favorite time of year!! We made this stew on Saturday and have been happily living off the left overs for days now. The great thing about stews is how much they improve after being left over night. This stew could not be easier (don't even have to brown the meat) but the depth of the flavours and the richness of the sauce is just amazing.

As I don't have a camera yet (sob!) I thought I'd demonstrate where on the cow the shin comes from. It's a fantastic and bargainacious cut of beef, perfect for recipes like this which just blip away slowly in the oven. Do use any stewing cut - we've used a few and they all work fine. I would say that meat from a decent butchers really does make a HUGE difference to the taste though. We didn't realise just how much it impacted upon the flavour until our butcher closed so we resorted to Sainsbury's meat but the flavour just isn't as good.

Here it is - promise me you'll make it soon!!

Rosy x

Shin of Beef Stew
Adapted from Jamie Oliver and serves 4 generously. I think we actually had 6 portions...

Olive oil

2 red onions, peeled and roughly chopped
3 carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
3 sticks of celery, trimmed and roughly chopped
4 cloves of garlic, unpeeled
a few sprigs of fresh rosemary
2 bay leaves
a small handful of dried porcini
1 cinnamon stick
1kg shin of beef, trimmed and cut into 5cm/2 inch pieces
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon flour
2 x 400g tins good-quality plum tomatoes
⅔ of a bottle of red wine

Preheat your oven to 180ºC/350ºF/gas 4. In a heavy-bottomed ovenproof saucepan, heat a splash of olive oil and gently fry the onions, carrots, celery, garlic, herbs, porcini and cinnamon for 5 minutes until softened slightly.

Meanwhile, toss the pieces of beef in a little seasoned flour, shaking off any excess. Add the meat to the pan and stir everything together, then add the tomatoes, wine and a pinch of salt and pepper. Gently bring to the boil, cover with a double-thickness piece of tinfoil* and a lid and place in your preheated oven for 3 hours or until the beef is meltingly tender and can be broken up with a spoon. Taste and check the seasoning, remove the cinnamon stick and rosemary sprigs and serve.

*Note: don't forget the double thickness tin foil! I did once and the whole thing dried up in the oven.

Thursday, 22 October 2009

Houston, we have a problem...

So... Tiny problem. A very nice person decided to burgle our flat and has stolen my beautiful camera! Amongst a load of other stuff as well which I won't bore you with. I'm feeling a little stranded as we no longer have our home computer or a camera to take pics of yummy food! At least not for a while - we have insurance so finger's crossed that it'll all be sorted at some point...

I'm honestly not sure when I'll be up and running again with blog related antics. I would still absolutely love to post the British Food Fortnight roundup though, so if anyone fancies helping with that and supplying some photos that would be all the more appreciated now!!

What do people think about blogging in the meantime without photos?? I know it's the cardinal rule of food blogging to have photos but I'm just not sure I can hold out until the insurance company gets their act together!

Rosy xx

Monday, 19 October 2009

British Food Fortnight

Autumn really is upon us. The leaves have turned, the air is cool and this Sunday the clocks go back... I love autmn. Never really been that keen on hot weather and, let's face it, autumn is the ultimate foodie season. Rich stews, flaky pie crusts, hearty soups and so many delicious baked goods to warm the cockles! Over the past few weeks, the very lovely Katie of Katiecakes and I have been emailing back and forth waxing lyrical on the wonderfulness that is this season when we struck upon an idea! 2 weeks of blogging related fun revolving around all things British and seasonal.

The idea - nothing fancy, just a good ol' cross blogging food event where you cook up yummy food that reminds you of this fabulous season and is a bit British inspired. There will be two roundups of said yumminess, the first will be on this very blog on the 31st October and will cover the savory side of things. Then on the 7th October, Katie will do a round up of all things sweet over here.

Wanna take part? We'd love it if you would!! Ah, making blogging friends is always so much fun... So if you have a warming soup to die for or a crumble that's perfect for curling up with on a cold Sunday, blog about it! Then pop your link on an email to us (or just the pic, that works too) and then there'll be a huge party blog-style (ie one big post...) of everyones creations on the dates mentioned above. Eek, I'm so excited already!

Where to email it to... Either me, Rosy, at rosy [at] rosylipsandlavender [dot] com for your savory dishes or Kaite at katiewantsapony [at] hotmail [dot] com with your sweet desserts or baked goods.

The aim is really just to have fun and to make some new friends so spread the word far and wide - go ahead and grab the pic above if you fancy and looking forward to catching up on the 31st!!

Love Rosy xx

Sunday, 18 October 2009

Spiced Pumpkin Cookie Cakes

Success! I've managed to organise myself enough to actually post... It's been a while, I know, but hopefully some photographic related breakthroughs will mean I'll be able to resume normal posting pace. That, and there's been the usual engagement distractions that have meant our diet has been largely based around pasta for the past fortnight - most of it definitely not blog worthy!!

Anyway, on to this week's Sweet Melissa Sundays. An appropriately autumnal recipe has been chosen by the wonderful Debbie of Everyday Blessings of the Five Dees. Spiced Pumpkin Cookie Cakes. Doesn't the name just make you want to dive into a big pile of crisp russet leaves?! I'm a huge fan of anything from the squash family - they're so versatile and the flavours develop wonderfully when cooked, especially roasted - so I was looking forward to a sweet application of the regal pumpkin. Us brits use pumpkins in cooking a lot but always in savory rather than sweet items. Our friends across the pond however are a lot keener on pumpkins in tarts, pies, mousse and, in this case, cookies. Well, cookie cakes. I'm not sure what the distinction is but heck, I was willing to give it a go in the name of an SMS adventure!

The one and only problem was the decision to make my own pumpkin puree. As Katie will testify, the cost of canned puree is crazy over here so I decided to roast and puree the flesh myself. This produced a very watery mush that, even after much draining, led to soggy batter and VERY flat cookie cakes! They tasted delicious and I'm considering popping to Waitrose tomorrow to see if I can produce a better result but as you can see, they weren't exactly the most aesthetic babies in my repertoire!!

Do check out the other SMS bakers though as I've had a peek and they look much yummier and less pancake like!!

Rosy xx

Monday, 5 October 2009

Apple Orchard Pecan Crumble

Ok, so I actually have a REALLY good reason for this being a bit late this week -

Jon PROPOSED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! So we're getting married which is just about the most exciting thing in the world EVER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

So I was a little tied up this weekend what with all the accepting of engagement rings and all...... But I did manage to bake up these little beauties a few days ago so as not to let the SMS side down!! I did modify the recipe slightly - of course they are individual ramekins (as the photo shows!) and yep, that caused a huge volcano of treacley fruit juices to permanently affix themselves to the bottom of our oven, but worked really well (other than that!). The other modification that I did was switch the flour with half wholemeal and half oats. I really liked that - complimented the nuttiness of the pecans and was a definite hit.

Many thanks to Cristine from Cooking with Cristine (you can find the recipe on her blog) for choosing this week's Sweet Melissa Sundays recipe and don't forget to check out the other bakers.

Rosy xx

PS WE'RE GETTING MARRIED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Thursday, 1 October 2009

Calling for help...

Ok, so my slightly more sporadic posting is in part due to a few busy work weeks, but I also have another slight issue - my photos! The nights have well and truely drawn in recently and my food photos don't look anywhere near as good in artificial light. I'm a bit of a novice anyway and natural light is my friend... What to do? Should I just settle for some slightly orangey photos for the winter months or is there something I can do about it? Any advice gratefully recieved!

Rosy xx