Tag Archives: British

Beef in Guinness

This is about as winter warming and comforting as food can be, and just perfect for all the snowy weather we’re all getting at the minute! I made this last weekend when it was minus 9 outside and in the midst of a snow storm!. I didn’t actually set foot outside all day. We all tucked in and devoured it with fervour.

Strangely enough the first time I ever cooked beef in Guinness, or black beer, was in the semi tropics of Bolivia. Staying in a picturesque mountain side hut overlooking the Andies with my friend Enda we made the most of having our very own outdoor kitchen for a few days and cooked up some triumphs with great local produce from the village a steep 3km trek away. Not only did the village have fresh homemade pasta for sale (this is extremely rural South America, not Italy, we’re talking about!), but we managed to find some very novel in those parts black beer (and some pretty good local red plonk to boot too!). And as the beef looked particularly scraggy and distinctly unappetising I figured the best treatment for it was to stew it up for a few hours in the beer. And what a result, I remember it being the best meal we’d had in weeks. Admittedly not the best choice of dinner to be eating in 35 degrees of heat but nevertheless it tasted damned good at the time. Happy happy memories!

Our wonderful outdoor kitchen

The view from the upstairs sleep deck, that's the bottom of my sleeping bag!

Anyway, I digress! Here’s a considerably more refined recipe for Beef in Guinness cooked with winter veggies and pearl barley. I used some pumpkin in mine which melted beautifully into the gravy, but I’ve usually used swede or parsnips in the past, even some turnip, but more often than not a mixture of what I happen to have in. These root veggies hold their shape a good deal better than my pumpkin.

For a family of four:

800g of braising steak

2 tbsps of plain flour

salt & pepper

olive oil

1 large onion, diced

2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped

2 carrots, sliced (a little thicker than a pound coin)

2 sticks of celery, sliced

500g of pumpkin/squash/swede/parsnips/turnips or a mix of a few of these. Peeled and cut into a 2 cm dice

2 tbsps of tomato puree

750ml of Guinness – equates to 1 and a half cans (some unfortunate person gets to finish the can!)

500ml of beef stock

4 bay leaves

4 sprigs of thyme

125g of pearl barley

Place the 2 tablespoons of flour in a large bowl and season with a little salt and pepper. Cut the beef into 3 to 4 cm chunks and roll around in the flour until evenly coated.

Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large casserole or saucepan and brown the beef off on a medium heat. Turn the meat every few minutes until all sides are browned. Once browned remove from the pan with a slotted spoon and set aside.

Into the same pan add the onion, garlic, carrots and celery. If there’s not much fat left from the beef add another tablespoon of olive oil. Continue to cook on a medium heat for 10 minutes, stirring everything regularly so nothing catches.

Add the browned beef to the pan along your chosen veggies and 2 tablespoons of tomato puree. Give everything a good stir then add the Guinness, beef stock, bay leaves and thyme. You can leave the thyme sprigs whole, and remove the empty stalks at the end of cooking just as you would the bay leaves (far less fiddly than removing the leaves I find). Last but not least stir in the pearl barley.

Bring to the boil and simmer very gently for 2 hours with the lid on. Stir periodically so as to ensure nothing catches on the bottom of the pan. The stew is ready when the beef is very very tender.

Serve with oodles of mash and the rest of the Guinness, or like myself a large glass of vin rouge.

Have you tried my other winter warming recipes? How about my Sausage & Bean Stew or Comfort Cottage Pie,


Pot Roast Chicken in a Lardon, White Wine & Creme Fraiche Sauce with Leek & Mustard Mash

This was our Sunday dinner last weekend and inarguably makes my Sunday Food Heaven top 5 list!. We all LOVED it, and needless to say there weren’t many chickenie leftovers!

I’m really into pot roasting meat these days as it by-passes having to use an oven, and as I’m sure most of you are well aware our temporary gas oven is worse than dreadful and best avoided at all costs. I daren’t buy a decent bird or joint of meat until it’s replaced, unless I can pot roast it on the hob. If you have a slightly older chicken (as we had, a gift from a neighbour) then this is also a particularly great way to cook it and retain as much moisture in the meat as you can. Older in age I mean, not old in the sense of it knocking around the fridge for a couple of weeks!.

Steamed in plenty of white wine, lardons (or streaky bacon if you can’t source), thyme, bay, garlic and onion, then thickened with a little crème fraiche at the end, this is a rather splendidly rich dish yet somehow light at the same time. I like to serve a mound of fluffy leek and wholegrain mustard mashed potato on the side as well as a simple steamed green veg, and in our case french beans fresh from the freezer (fresh from the garden last summer anyway!). Leek & mustard mash is also great with sausages, a pork joint or chops or just a plain roasted chicken.

If you happen to have fussy kids (we have one!) then with very little effort you can adapt this dinner to suit the whole family. If your kids don’t ‘do’ sauces as many seem not to (our daughter recoils with horror at anything other than gravy!) then they can just have the plain chicken, leaving even more delish sauce for those that can appreciate it. Similarly on the mash front I tend to keep a little plain mash back before adding the mustard and leeks. As it happened they both ate the lot today, sauce and all.

Enough for 4:

2 tbsps olive oil

salt & pepper

an average sized chicken (about 1.5kg)

1 smallish onion, finely diced

5 cloves of garlic, finely chopped

200g lardons or streaky bacon

500ml white wine

500ml chicken stock

4 large sprigs of thyme, leaves removed

3 bay leaves

4 heaped tbsps of creme fraiche

For the Leek & Mustard Mash:

900g of peeled potatoes, cut into large chunks

1 tbsp olive oil

2 large leeks, thoroughly washed and finely sliced

30g butter

a dash of milk

salt & pepper

1 to 2 tbsps wholegrain mustard

Add the olive oil to a very large saucepan or casserole dish (it must be able to easily contain the chicken and have a lid), place on a low heat. Season the chicken all over with a  little salt and black pepper, massage into the skin. Place the chicken in the pan and turn every few minutes until it’s golden brown on all sides. Remove from the pan and set aside.

Place the onions and garlic in the same pan and sauté on a gentle heat, stirring regularly, for 5 minutes. Add the lardons and cook for a further 5 minutes. Put the chicken back in the pan with the onions and lardons, along with the white wine, chicken stock, the thyme and bay leaves and last but not least a generous grinding of black pepper.

Bring to the boil and simmer very gently for one and a half hours with the lid on. The chicken is ready when it falls easily off the bone.

Whilst the chicken is simmering away make your mash. Boil the potatoes in a saucepan of boiling salted water. While they’re boiling saute the sliced leeks in a tablespoon of olive oil in a frying pan, stir regularly and saute for about 10 minutes until very soft. If the leeks are catching on the bottom a little too much, add a splash of water. When the potatoes are cooked drain and leave to steam for a couple of minutes to dry out. Mash with a potato masher, mashing in the butter, a dash of milk, a pinch of salt and some freshly ground black pepper. Stir in the cooked leeks and the wholegrain mustard. Start with just one tablespoon of the mustard and taste, add more to suit your taste – I like about two tablespoons!.

When the chicken’s cooked, remove from the pan and leave to rest in a covered dish or a roasting pan covered with foil, so that it stays warm. Stir the creme fraiche into the sauce and bring back to the boil. Allow to simmer for 10 to 15 minutes until the sauce has reduced and is a little thicker. Pour into a serving jug.

Carve the chicken and serve with a generous pouring of sauce over thet top, a mound of mash and a green veggie on the side. Perfect.

Have you tried my Coq au VinSimple Chicken Stew or Chicken, Pumpkin & Borlotti Beans recipes?


Sticky Apple Pudding

As I’ve said before I don’t make many baked puddings these days as our gas oven is so awful they tend to come out with a barely cooked top and a very burnt bum. But after steaming christmas puddings a few weeks ago I had a rather rare brainwave that I could steam a pud and bypass the dratted oven altogether. Amazing.

So here it is, christmas pudding aside, my first ever steamed pud, and what a triumph. Not a pretty triumph, but a wonderfully sticky and ever so naughty triumph….and a triumph not too suitable for those sticking to a New Year diet! And even if you don’t have a dodgy cooker like me please try a steamed pud, they’re so moist and sticky and utterly delish. Watch out for lots more Chez Foti steamed pud recipes coming up.

I set out to make an apple pud, as we still have lots of stored surplus from our apple harvest in the Autumn, and besides we all love an appley pud. So I took a normal steamed apple pud recipe (which is essentially just the same as a sponge cake recipe but with apples on the top) and stickied (loving my new word there) up the apples with some good old Golden Syrup and added lots of lemon zest to the sponge base. Yum. Combining the lemon and apple together worked marvellously, my winter pudding heaven!

Enough for 4:

3 tbsps of golden syrup

65g butter, at room temperature

3 apples, peeled, cored and cut into a small dice

a little flour and butter to grease and line the pudding basin

65g caster sugar

1 lemon, zested

1 and a half eggs, beaten

85g self-raising flour

3 tbsp milk

Place the golden syrup in a deep frying pan or saucepan along with 20g of the butter. Heat until bubbling a little and add the diced apple. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring regularly.

Meanwhile  beat together the rest of the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy, preferably with an electric whisk. Add the lemon zest and beat in the eggs. Then beat in the flour and milk.

Grease and line a small pudding basin. Add the sticky apples first, then pile the cake mixture on top.

Cover the basin with a couple of layers of foil or baking paper forming a pleat on the top, and tie round the sides with string to secure firmly in place.

Place the basin in a saucepan of simmering water (the water level should come to about two thirds of the height of the basin) and simmer for an hour with the saucepan lid on. It’s cooked when you can insert a fork or skewer and it comes out clean.

When cooked turn out on to a plate and serve immediately with lashings of custard.

If you like this recipe, how about trying my Bread & Butter Leftovers Pud


Jamie’s Empire Roast Chicken, Bombay Potatoes & Gravy

A grown up dinner today, although without the chilli (or just the merest touch) I’m sure little ones might enjoy this too. But for us it was the perfect excuse to have a late evening Sunday supper on our own, cooking in the original wood burning bread oven that’s in our lounge. I’ve been watching Jamie Oliver’s latest series Great Britain these last few weeks, and just how excellent was it?! His midlands show had this recipe for Empire Roast Chicken served with Bombay Potatoes and Gravy that literally had me dribbling and I just had to make it. He used a wood fired oven on the show and totally inspired me to try it in ours. It was great to put it to use for something other than pizza. And what a fantastic success, although a tad on the hot side. I will definitely be experimenting a little bit more with cooking in ours. Obviously if you don’t have a wood oven you can use a conventional gas or electric one!

Our 1788 original bread oven!

This is a bit of a lazy blog today, as it’s entirely not my recipe AND I’m not even going to write it out. To read Jamie’s recipe click on the link below. I can honestly say I didn’t change anything at all, nor would I want to….it was perfect.  It’s a fantastic recipe, please try it, I know you won’t be disappointed. A great dinner if you have friends over, or just an indulgent night in for two. If I had to make one suggestion though, bump up the amount of Bombay Potatoes if you’re cooking for four or more people. Somehow or other Phil and I managed to chomp our way through the lot when there was supposed to be enough to feed four to six. But then we are rather greedy and couldn’t actually move afterwards. They were way too good to leave.

The recipe:
Jamie’s Roast Chicken & Bombay Potatoes Recipe

Thanks so much Mr Oliver!


Friday Night Fish & Chips, with homemade Tartare Sauce

Fish & Chips, now where do I start?  I LOVE FISH & CHIPS, if anyone asks me what’s the main thing I miss about living in the UK, the answer’s always Fish & Chips….family and friends aside it is in fact the only thing I truthfully miss!  F&Cs were our standard ‘too lazy too cook’ take away supper, usually on a Friday night, and even ranked above a curry!.

Obviously living in France you just don’t get F&Cs, these funny French people don’t know what they’re missing!. So I started to make my own…usually as a Friday or Saturday night treat for the family. Mine are way healthier as I don’t own a deep fat fryer. Nor do I ever want to, not for health and safety reasons you understand, but for the fact I know we would use it just a little too much!. My chips are oven baked and my fish breadcrumbed and fried in just a little oil. And do you know what, they’re really really good.  Not the same as battered and deep fried, but still really good.

To save on time you could always breadcrumb a large batch of fish fillets or fingers and freeze them, then bring out and use just as you would shop bought ones. For the breadcrumb outer layer I use  a 50/50 mix of breadcrumbs and polenta; the polenta adds a little extra crispy crunch.

And if you’re going to go to the trouble of making your own fish & chips, why not make some tartare sauce to have on the side?.  I’ve really got into making my own mayonnaise lately (which is the base for tartare), and as long as you make it in a food processor you’ll be amazed at just how quick it is….and how good!  Admittedly, the first time I attempted to make mayonnaise I did so by hand with a whisk, and whilst it tasted divine I wasn’t exactly in a hurry to be making any more! The recipe makes way too much for one meal, but keeps for up to a week in the fridge.  A great excuse for another fishy dinner.

Fish & Chips for a family of four:

400g sustainable white fish fillets

2 tbsp plain flour

1 egg, beaten

a handful of white breadcrumbs

a handful of polenta

sunflower oil

800g Desiree or other floury potatoes (about 3 large), peeled

salt & pepper

some lemon slices

Preheat your oven to as hot as it will go  230 – 250°C/Gas 9.

Cut the potatoes into 1 cm thick slices lengthways, then each slice into 1cm thick chips.  Place in a large pan of boiling salted water and boil for 4 minutes. Remove from the water and drain well.

Place the chips on a baking sheet or roasting pan, drizzle with a little sunflower oil, salt and pepper and mix well until all the chips are coated (there shouldn’t be any excess oil in the pan).

Place in the hot oven for 15 to 20 minutes, turning every few minutes to prevent burning.  They’re ready when golden and crisp.

Whilst the chips are in the oven, prepare your fish.  Check the fillets for bones and remove if you find any. Cut into two large grown up pieces and two smaller child size ones….or cut thin strips across the fish to make fish fingers (I make two per child).

Now assemble three large flat bottomed bowls or dishes.  In the first place the flour, the second the beaten egg and in the third the breadcrumbs/polenta. Dip each fish piece first in the flour and completely coat, then in the egg (again completely coat) then the breadcrumbs.

Heat 3 tbsps of sunflower oil in a large frying pan until very hot.  Add the fish pieces and fry for 5 to 8 minutes (depending on the thickness of your fish fillet) turning once until golden brown and crisp.  Remove from the pan and drain on kitchen paper.

Serve immediately with the chips, slice of lemon, peas and tartare sauce.

Here’s a pic of Jacques eating his first ever takeaway fish & chips, whilst at my mum and dads house in the UK this summer.  Needless to say he enjoyed them about as much as his mother!

 Tartare Sauce:

1 egg

½ level tsp salt

½ level tsp mustard powder

½ clove of garlic, peeled

100ml sunflower oil

75ml olive oil

pepper

1 dessertspoon lemon juice

1 tbsp flat leaved parsley

1 heaped tbsp rinsed capers

4 cornichons (baby gherkins)

Break the egg into your food processor and add the salt, mustard powder and garlic.  Whiz up a little.  Combine the two oils in a jug.  With the food processor whizzing, start to add the oil (through the processor feeding tube) in a very slow steady trickle, pouring as slowly as possible.  The mayo will seem very thin at first, don’t worry as the more oil you add the thicker it gets. Continue until all the oil has been incorporated.

Now add some pepper, the lemon juice, parsley, capers and cornichons to the processor and whiz again.  It’s ready when it’s as course or fine as you want it to be. Adjust the salt, pepper and lemon juice to suit. Et voila tartare sauce made in minutes!


Comfort Cottage Pie

The weather’s suddenly turning a little colder here, you can see the snow on the Pyrenees and we’re lighting fires most days – no central heating @ Chez Foti:-(. So it’s time to bring on the cold weather food. Yipppppeeee.  It’s a close call but I’m reckoning I love all those winter warming slow cooked stews, casseroles, roasts and pies more than summer food.  They reach out and give you a big foodie hug just when you need one. And rich comforting cottage pie, done right with a bit of care and attention, is my winter food heaven.  Love it, the kids love it, everyone loves it don’t they?

Normally when I’m making meaty sauces or bases I bulk out the meat with lots of veggies, but there’s something about keeping a cottage pie intensely beefy and simple, refraining to mess too much. My one veggie addition though is the humble parsnip. Added to the potato topping with a little horseradish, you get a little sweet kick, that’s oh so lovely against the beef.  And horseradish and beef are obviously a match made in foodie heaven!

Enough for 4 adults, (or like us, enough for a family of 4, with portions left over for the kids to eat the next day):

olive oil

1 large onion, finely diced

2 small carrots, finely diced

1 celery stalk, finely diced

600g good quality lean beef mince (preferably from a butcher who can mince the meat in front of you)

1 heaped tbsp plain flour

1 large glass of red wine

1 heaped tbsp of tomato puree

500ml beef stock

1 tsp of worcester sauce

2 bay leaves

3 sprigs of thyme

salt & pepper

For the topping:

620g potatoes, peeled and chopped

350g parsnips, peeled and chopped

2 tsp cream horseradish

70g butter

50ml milk

salt & pepper

In a large saucepan heat a good glug of olive oil and add the onion, carrots and celery.  Cook over a medium heat for about 10 minutes until soft, stirring regularly.

Turn up the heat and add the beef.  Cook for about 5 minutes until browned.

Add the red wine, turn down the heat a little and cook until the wine has nearly all evaporated. Add the flour, stir briskly then immediately add the tomato puree, beef stock, bay leaves, thyme, worcester sauce and seasoning. Cover and simmer for 40 minutes.

Meanwhile pre-heat your oven to 200°C/Gas Mark 6, and make your potato topping.

In a large pan of boiling water boil the potatoes and parsnips until soft. Drain and allow them to steam  and dry out for a few minutes. Mash with the butter, milk and horseradish.  Season to taste.

Place the beef in an openproof dish (remembering to remove the bay leaves and thyme sprigs).  Spoon on the mash. I like to shape my mash with the back of a fork, as that’s what my mum’s always done.

Bake in the oven for 30 to 40 minutes until golden on the top (and if it’s not you can always pop it under the grill for a few minutes).

Serve piping hot with a nice green veg on the side.  We had ours with steamed home grown broccoli. Enjoy your winter warming food hug!  Here’s Jacques getting down to a bit of serious eating with his Oogaa bowl and train spoon:


Kids Fish Pie!


Today I baked fish pie in my gorgeous Oogaa bowls, much to the delight of my kids! Their favourite dinner IN their favourite bowls, Jacques was literally climbing on the table to get his fingers in the pies! Oogaa produce fabulous feeding products for babies and young children, in gorgeous designs and colours that are fun and so adorable. We now have the range of colours and Francesca frustratingly will only eat out of a bowl that matches her outfit of the day (as girls do!). Jacques loves their squidgability (I think I just made up a word here!) and loves to chew and play with them after his dinner, or put them on his head. He also has a rather unnerving tendency of flinging his bowl as far and fast as he can once he’s finished eating so Mummy’s very happy to have silicone non-noisy non-breakable dinnerware!. Mummy’s also happy that they’re so incredibly useful, they can be baked in the oven, put in the microwave to warm up food, put through the dishwasher and even used to store food in the freezer. And being silicone, so wonderfully safe! For more information on Oogaa have a look at their lovely website: www.oogaa.com.

Although named Kid’s Fish Pie, it’s most certainly not just for kids, and can be very much enjoyed by grown ups too! I baked my pies individually in Oogaa bowls today (as well as a separate dish for my husband and I), but you could also use a large and deep ovenproof dish for everyone.

Enough for 4 adults (or like us, for a family of 4, with portions left over for the kids to eat again the next day!)

400g of sustainable white fish fillets (or combination of salmon and white fish)

500ml of full fat milk

1 bay leaf

salt & pepper

50g butter

40g plain flour

80g Cheddar cheese, grated

½ tsp of English mustard (optional)

2 eggs, hard boiled

80g frozen peas, cooked

2 large handfuls of fresh spinach, washed and finely chopped, wilted

2 tbsps chopped fresh chives, finely chopped (optional)

3 tsps of lemon juice

For the Potato Topping:

700g potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks

40g butter

3 tbsp milk

salt & pepper

Preheat your oven to 180°C/Gas 4.

Place your fish in a saucepan and pour over the milk, a little seasoning (none or very little salt if you’re cooking for wee ones!) and the bay leaf. Slowly bring to the boil and allow to simmer for about 5 minutes until the fish is cooked.

Meanwhile cook the potatoes for the topping in a pan of boiling water. If you haven’t already done so you can hard boil your eggs in the same pan (they take 8 minutes in boiling water). When the potatoes are cooked drain out the water, pouring the water over the fresh spinach as this will be enough to wilt it ready for the pie. Mash the potatoes with the butter, milk and a little seasoning.

Drain the fish from the milk, retaining the milk for the sauce. Check the fish for bones, roughly break into pieces and set aside.

Now to make the cheese sauce. Place the butter in a large saucepan and heat over a very gentle heat until melted. With the pan still on a little heat add the flour and stir quickly and vigorously with a wooden spoon or a balloon whisk until combined. Add a little milk and continue to stir or whisk vigorously, continue to add the milk in this way until you have incorporated it all. Don’t worry if you have a few lumps at this stage, they’ll eventually go. Continue to stir or whisk the sauce constantly over a gentle heat until it is fully thickened and starting to simmer, this will take a few minutes. When simmering, take the pan off the heat and stir in the cheese and mustard (if using).

Now you can assemble your pie or pies. Place the fish pieces evenly in a large ovenproof dish or individual dishes or bowls. Roughly chop up the eggs and scatter on to the fish, along with the peas, spinach and chives (if using). Drizzle over a little lemon juice. Pour over the cheese sauce. Top with the mashed potato.

Bake in the oven for 15 to 20 minutes. For a crispy browned top place briefly under a hot grill.


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