Tag Archives: Onions

Leftover Cheese & Onion Bread

Cheese Bread

Now I know this isn’t exactly the most suitable recipe for any New Year dieters out there, but my excuse is I haven’t started mine yet. I’m still working my way from the excesses of choccies, biscuits, mince pies, christmas cakes, salami and cheese that are still lurking each and every which way I look. How could one possibly start any sort of diet and waste such bounty?. So today I decided to help myself along a little and throw all the cheese scrag ends into an oh so easy and oh soooooo naughty Cheese & Onion Loaf. Though I should hasten to add I still have a quarter of a Stilton and an equal amount of a mighty fine aged local Brebis (Sheeps Cheese). So I’m still a long LONG way of the D word. Thankfully. So my apologies now to any dieters out there, and I would seriously advice you not to make this, as just the one, ridiculously calorific, slice will not possibly be enough. You’ve been warned.

Master Jacques giving the Cheesy Bread his all!

Master Jacques giving the Cheesy Bread his all!

Finally it seems I have my baking mojo back. After endless freezer-filling pre-christmas baking sessions it’s been the last thing on my mind the last couple of weeks. But today’s a Wednesday and that’s a baking day in our house. The kids aren’t at school and I always try to bake something or other with them each week. Today it was just Jacques and I, as Big Sis was out with Mr F collecting wood. So we made a gloriously quick and simple yeastless and kneadless throw-it-all together Cheese & Onion Bread, that was all made in the time it took to put together a simple Pumpkin Soup. This cheese fest bread is the perfect accompaniment to hearty up a lunch time soup and particularly wonderful served piping hot out of the oven whilst the cheeses are still oozy. And you can literally use any cheese, or combination of cheeses, you happen to have in. I really did use up all our scrag ends, throwing in chunks of goats cheese, Manchego and Comte.

Leftover Cheese Bread

Leftover Cheese & Onion Bread

Makes one large loaf

a tablespoon of sunflower oil

a large red onion, finely sliced

450g of plain flour

a level tablespoon of baking powder

a teaspoon of English mustard powder

a large pinch of salt

a large pinch of black pepper

75g of butter, melted

375ml of milk

250g of leftover cheeses, roughly cut into chunks

Special Equipment: a large loaf tin lined with baking parchment

Preheat your oven to 200ºC.

Heat the sunflower oil in a saucepan and add the onions. Gently saute for 10 minutes until softened. Set aside.

Meanwhile sieve together the flour, baking powder and mustard powder and stir in the salt and pepper, ensuring everything is thoroughly combined.

Melt the butter and stir into the milk, then stir them both into the dry mixture. Finally mix in the cheesy chunks and onions and dollop into a large lined loaf tin.

Place in your oven for 35 to 40 minutes, until golden brown on the top, firm to touch and an inserted skewer comes out clean.

Serve warm with soup. Perfect. Perfectly naughty anyway.

If you like this, you might also like to try these other super-easy to bake with kids recipes:  Super-Fruity Banana Mini Muffins, Chocolate Pumpkin Cake, Cheese, Ham & Sweetcorn Muffins or Cheesy Biscuits

Cheese & Onion Loaf


Fig, Goats Cheese & Red Onion Tarts

We’re in the midst of fig season here in France and I’m loving it. Without a doubt they’re one of my favourite fruits and as we’re relative newbies here only in our second fig season they still feel rather decedent and exotic. Sadly we’re the only people I know of without a single fig tree in the garden so I have to rely on friends and a couple of our holiday home neighbours’ trees to feed my indulgence. I really must get around to planting our own trees next spring.

Last Saturday we were happily invited to my friend Debbie’s house for a spot of fig picking and horsey riding for Francesca. Five kilos later we came home (not counting the umpteen in our tummies). I’m afraid to say I put most of them in the freezer to make into jam when I’ve a little more time on my hands than this week. The rest were made into several batches of these gorgeous wee Fig, Goats Cheese & Red Onion Tartlets and a fabulous Fig & Pear Crumble (which I shall be blogging shortly too).

Master J adores his figs too, though they’re not the choicest of foods for a lad going through potty training. Last Autumn I took my daily walk with Jacques-on-my-back past one particular fig tree which he’d scream at as we got closer, screaming for me to pick him some. Funny at first, but the screaming carried on for the subsequent four months until well into January and there was snow on the ground, and each time with me painstakingly trying to explain the figs were all gone and he’d have to wait until next September. Anyway at least September’s come around again and he’s one very happy wee (and exceptionally regular) chappie. And a happy chappie with a few more words than last year, namely ‘Mummy pick fig NOW!’.

Anyway enough fig talk, on with the tarts, or tartlettes if I want to be really posh. I made several batches of these last year too, and always a success. The sweetness of the figs and balsamic caramalised red onions is cut through with a little sharpness from the goats cheese and the savory notes of thyme and addition of black pepper to the pastry. Perfect for parties and buffets, or as a nibble served with pre-dinner drinks or a starter with a few dressed leaves on the side. Admittedly they’re a tad on the fiddly side but can be made in large batches and handily frozen. And so well worth the effort.

I’m going for my first ever trio of bloggie competitions with this recipe, so keep on in there while I detail them all. Firstly, I was very pleased to see September’s One Ingredient Challenge is the Fig, a wonderful competition held jointly by Laura at How to Cook Good Food and Nazima at Working London Mummy (this month is Laura’s turn).

As thyme is such a crucial ingredient to my tarts I’m also entering Karen at Lavender and Lovage’s Herbs on Saturday Challenge (again I know, but it’s such a lovely competition!)

And last but most certainly not least my tarts are also entering Ren Behan’s Fabulicious Food Simple and in Season Competition, this month hosted by Katie at Feeding Boys and a Firefighter.

Phew, that’s a whole lot of competitions, now on with the recipe!

Fig, Goats Cheese & Red Onion Tarts

Makes 24 mini tartlets:

For the Pastry:

200g of plain flour, plus a little extra for rolling

100g of butter, cut into small blocks, straight from the fridge

100g of hard vegetable fat, cut into small blocks, straight from the fridge

a teaspoon of coarsely ground black pepper

a generous pinch of salt

an egg yolk

For the Tarts:

3 tablespoons of olive oil

3 red onions, very finely sliced

2 dessertspoons of balsamic vinegar

salt & pepper

12 to 15 very ripe figs (about 320g)

150g of goats cheese (preferably in a log shape)

a few sprigs of fresh thyme, leaves removed

a little more extra virgin olive oil for drizzling

Special Equipment: 

2 small x12 tart or fairy cake tins

Start with making your pastry. I use a food processor for speed but you can make it by hand too. If you’re using a processor place all the ingredients (bar the egg yolk) in the bowl and whiz until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add the egg yolk and continue to whiz. When it starts to come together in a ball it’s ready, add a few drops of very cold water until this happens. Remove from the processor and shape together. Wrap in cling film and place in the fridge for at least 30 minutes before using.

If you’re making the pastry by hand place all the ingredients (bar the egg yolk) together in a mixing bowl. Rub the fat into the flour with your hands until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add the egg yolk splash and mix into the flour and fat with your hands, trying to bring it all together. When it comes together in a ball it’s ready. You may also need to add a few drops of water for this to happen. Wrap in cling film and rest in the fridge for 30 minutes.

Pre-heat the oven to 190ºC (gas mark 5, 375ºF).

Whilst the pastry’s resting make your filling. Heat the oil in a saucepan on a gentle heat. Add the finely sliced onions and cook slowly for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring regularly, until very soft. Stir in the balsamic vinegar and a pinch each of salt and ground black pepper. Allow to bubble for a minute or two before setting aside to cool.

Meanwhile cut each of the figs into 6 segments, and cut the goats cheese into 24 thin rounds.

Roll out the pastry on a floured surface as thinly as you can, to a one to two millimeter thickness. Cut into rounds with a 8cm diameter pastry cutter (or like me an upturned thin wine glass – every time I make tarts I curse myself for not having a correct sized cutter!). Re-work the leftover pastry until you have 24 pastry rounds.

Lay the rounds in the two tart or cake tins and press down lightly. Place a small teaspoon of the red onions at the bottom of each, followed by a slice of the goats cheese, a scattering of thyme leaves. Finally place three fig segments on the top of each, plus a fine grinding of black pepper and the merest drizzle of olive oil.

Place in the oven for about 20 minutes, until the pastry’s golden brown and crisp.

How about trying my other tart recipes? A couple of Tomato Tarts or Leek & Goats Cheese Tart.


Lou’s Blue Cheese Barbecue Burgers

….or my fat b*****d burgers as I usually call them in less polite company. I’ve been making these barbecue burgers for years and they always go down a storm. So incredibly quick and easy to put together yet worlds apart from any commercial burgers. And more importantly you know exactly what meat’s gone into them which is always a concern of mine. They can handily be made in advance and stored for a few days in the fridge, or even frozen.

My blue cheese of preference is definitely Gorgonzola as it has a nice little kick to it without being overbearing, and is perfectly creamy and a good melter.  For a slightly mellower flavour use Dolcelatte or Cambozola. Or for added kick go for Stilton or Roquefort.

The quality of the beef is crucial, use the best mince you can get hold of and preferably minced in front of you by a butcher.

Enough for four very large burgers!

a medium onion, finely sliced

2 tablespoons of sunflower oil

650g of very good quality lean beef mince

a teaspoon of salt

a teaspoon of coarsely ground black pepper

80g of blue cheese, divided into 4 equal cubes

4 large burger baps

Cook the onion in the oil for about 10 minutes until very soft, stirring regularly so the onions don’t catch and burn. Allow to cool.

Once cool mix the onions, beef, salt and pepper in a large bowl. This really is a job best done with your hands, unglamorously squelching everything together through your fingers.

Divide into four and shape each quarter into a patty shape. Press a cube of cheese into each and shape the beef around it so it’s buried and sealed within.

Place in the fridge until you’re ready to barbecue.

Cook over hot coals for about 4 minutes on each side. The meat should be a teeny weeny bit pink towards the middle and the cheese just oozing. Cook a minute or so more on each side for well done.

Serve in big floury baps with all the normal sauces and sides. Enjoy! You will.

How about trying my Pork & Veggie Kebabs on your barbie too? Or some of my other summery recipes, Chicken, Asparagus & Lemon Cassoulet or Asparagus, Lemon & Pea Risotto


Greek Stylie Pork & Veggie Kebabs

‘Tis barbie season finally and we’ve been making the most of it this week, partly because of the great weather and partly because we’ve had our seventeen year old nephew James staying with us. I’m not terribly sure how we’re going to cope without his super-nannying skills when he leaves this afternoon (both with kids and dogs!). I’ve mainly been doing a few of my usuals on the barbie, various veggie and meat kebabs, my fat b*****d blue cheese stuffed burgers, chilli pork chops etc, all recipes that I’ll be blogging shortly plus a few exciting newbies on the block.

For today it’s my Greek Stylie Pork and Veggie Kebabs with fresh oregano. I’ve no idea how many times I must have made these last summer. At least twenty times I’m reckoning, and later in the summer using peppers, aubergines, courgettes and onions fresh out of the garden. I can’t wait to be able to do that again, rock on summer! They tend to be more of a side dish rather than a main event for me, but served with hummus and/or tzatziki, a greek salad and pitta bread they make a very substantial main. Great also with chicken instead of pork or without any meat at all (just up the quantity and variety of veggies).

The meat and veggies are best left to marinade for a good few hours, so try to make in advance if you can. And if you’re short on time, as I always am, it’s particularly handy to get all the hard work done in advance anyway, then all you have to do is a bit of skewering up just before barbecuing.


As I grow oregano in abundance I love to use it as generously as possible. It’s the chief flavouring in these kebabs, but if you don’t have a source of fresh oregano you can replace with three teaspoons of dried. I’m entering this post to the Herbs on Saturday blogging challenge held by the lovely Karen at one of my favourite blogs, Lavender & Lovage. I’ve been meaning to take part for quite a while now, but my organisational skills are not the best at times! Have a look at her blog as there’s sure to be plenty of herby and other delights on offer.

Oregano growing in my garden

If you do lots of barbecues I’d think about investing in some metal skewers, they’re so much better than the flimsy easily burnable throw away ones. My Mum and Dad gave me a set years ago that they’d brought back from Istanbul. To be honest they sat at the back of a drawer unused for some time before I got into barbecuing recently, and now they’re used countless times every summer.

Enough for six to eight kebabs:

a medium onion, white or red

a large pepper (any colour)

½ an aubergine or a small courgette or both!

the juice of a lemon

3 tablespoons of olive oil

2 cloves of garlic, finely sliced

a teaspoon of coarsely ground black pepper

a generous pinch of salt

a handful of fresh oregano sprigs, leaves removed and roughly chopped or 3 teaspoons of dried oregano

350g of pork loin pieces

Start with preparing your meat and veggies. They should all be cut to a similar size so everything cooks fairly evenly. Half the onions, then half again then again into eighths. Then roughly separate the layers. Cut the aubergine in quarters lengthways then slice into pieces about 6/7mm thick. If using courgette slice  into 6/7mm thick rounds. Cut the pepper to a similar size. Finally dice the pork the same size as the veggies.

Now put together the marinade ingredients in a large non-metalic bowl, mix together the olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, salt & black pepper and oregano leaves.

Tip the pork and veggies into the marinade and give everything a thorough stir. I use my hands. Cover with cling film and leave to marinade away in the fridge for a few hours.

Just before barbecuing, remove from the fridge and skewer up, alternating the veggies, onions and pork. Brush any remaining marinade over the kebabs.

Cook on a hot barbecue, turning every few minutes until they’re evenly browned on all sides and the pork and veggies are thoroughly cooked through.

Great served hot with pitta breads, hummus, tzatziki and a large greek salad on the side (again made with plenty of lemon juice and fresh oregano) or as a side dish to the rest of the barbecue. Any leftovers are fab eaten cold in a pitta sandwich.


Chicken, Veggie & Egg Fried Rice

My version of Chicken Fried Rice contains eggs and lots of veggies and is a very firm favourite in our house, especially with the wee ones. It’s definitely Jacques’ absolute toptastic favourite dinner, he rarely misses out on a third helping! In fact the first time I made it for him when he was just under a year old I wasn’t sure he was ever going to stop eating. Feel free to omit the chicken and turn this into a tasty veggie dinner, just up the eggs and veggies.

The classic recipe for CFR only includes rice, chicken, egg, onions and peas, but like most things I substantially veg mine up adding pretty much anything that I happen to have in. Today I used half a red pepper, a carrot, a handful of green beans from the freezer and a quarter of a head of broccoli. Peas, courgette, leek, squash, pumpkin, sweet potato, sweetcorn, beansproats, mushrooms, spinach, chard and cabbage all work really well too. Cut your veggies to a size appropriate to the smallest eater. I tend to dice mine fairly small as my children are still pretty little, and a small dice also has the added benefit of a perfect disguise for fussy eaters (as my daughter most definitely can be at times!). If you’re cooking for adults or older children cut everything to a much larger grown up size and cook for a few minutes longer.

Classic recipes also only include the flavour addition of soy sauce, but I like to add a little less soy and a large piece of grated ginger and a teaspoon of Chinese five spice (one of my favourite flavours ever). It’s always good to get your kids used to eating different flavours from a young age, I’m sure it helps to make them less fussy later on.

January 2013: This post is part of the #FaveFamilyRecipes Competition with BritMums and Tilda Rice. Every pack sold will provide a meal to an expectant mum in need in support of the World Food Programme’s Mothers Helping Mothers initiative in Bangladesh. Please check out all the other wonderful entries on the BritMums blog. Although I wrote this post over ten months ago it’s still my two little monsters’ absolute  favourite dinner guaranteed to be gobbled up!

Chicken, Veggie & Egg Fried Rice

Enough for a hungry family of 4:


220g white rice, preferably jasmine
2 tablespoons of groundnut or sunflower oil
a thumb sized piece of fresh ginger, grated
a small onion, diced
1/2 red pepper, diced
a carrot, diced
1/4 broccoli, cut into small florets (and any larger stem sections diced)
a handful of green beans, sliced
2 tablespoons of soy sauce
a little water
2 free range chicken breasts, cut to a small dice
a teaspoon of Chinese five spice
a teaspoon of sunflower oil
2 eggs
salt & pepper

Start with cooking your rice, cook to packet instructions. Once cooked drain and set aside.

Meanwhile heat the oil in a wok or a large deep sided frying pan. Add the onion, garlic and carrot (and any other root or slow to cook veggies that you may be using). Cook for 5 minutes on a very high heat, stirring and turning continuously.

Now add the broccoli, beans, pepper and other veggies that you’ve chosen to use. Also stir in the soy sauce and a couple of tablespoons of water. Continue to cook on a high heat for a further five minutes. Keep adding a splash of water when the the liquid evaporates.

Finally add the diced chicken and a teaspoon of Chinese five spice. Stir and cook for a final 5 minutes.

While the chicken’s cooking make your omelette. Heat a teaspoon of sunflower oil in another frying pan. Whisk up the eggs and season with a little salt and pepper. When the pan is hot pour in the eggs, stir a little then leave to firm up on a medium heat. Once the egg is fully cooked through remove the omelette from the pan and cut into small bite sized strips.

Thoroughly mix the chicken and veggies, rice and eggy strips together and serve immediately. Grown up folk might like to add a little extra soy sauce. I’ve served mine today in my gorgeous Oogaa bowls. Oogaa design and sell fabulous and safe feeding products for babies and young children in fun designs and colours. For more information check out the Oogaa website, www.oogaa.com.

How about trying some of my other child friendly recipes? Kid’s Bolognese, Sausage & Courgette Pasta Carbonara, Salmon Fishcakes, Potato, Cauliflower & Pumpkin Curry or Pumpkin Mac ‘n Cheese?


Braised Venison in Red Wine & Brandy

20120317-121644.jpg

Last week we were very kindly given a couple of haunches of venison from the local chasse (hunters).Talk about local, they might even have been living in our garden. We see them quite often here but only for a split second before they shyly scarper away. Wild deer are extremely timid creatures.

Venison is such a wonderfully lean and incredibly flavoursome meat, I love it. With haunch number one I removed most of the fabulous meat, cut it into 4 cm cubes and left it to marinade for a couple of nights in red wine, brandy, juniper, bay, thyme and plenty of black pepper, before slowly braising in the marinade with carrots, onions, garlic, celery and lardons. The remaining scrags of meat and bone were braised in more red wine and veggies and greedily enjoyed that evening with a pile of buttery mash. Haunch number two is in the freezer awaiting inspiration.

I often use juniper berries as a flavouring with game. For this dish I use them loose as part of the marinade then tie them in a piece of muslin for the cooking, so as to extract maximum flavour without the risk of accidentally eating one which is not a particularly pleasant experience.

Enough for 4 grown ups, or a family of 4 with a few leftovers:
a kilo of venison shoulder, haunch or leg meat, cut into 4cm cubes
400ml of red wine
3 tablespoons of brandy
10 juniper berries
4 sprigs of thyme
3 bay leaves
a large pinch of sea salt
a teaspoon of roughly ground black pepper
a tablespoon of plain flour
2 tablespoons of olive oil
200g of lardons or streaky bacon
an onion, diced
3 cloves of garlic, finely sliced
2 carrots, sliced
2 celery sticks, sliced
400ml of good quality beef stock
a little chopped fresh parsley to serve

Firstly marinade your meat, at least overnight, maybe for two nights if you have the time. Place the venison pieces in a large bowl with the red wine, brandy, juniper berries, thyme (leave the sprigs whole), bay leaves, salt and pepper. Stir everything around a little, cover and place in the fridge to marinade.

When it’s time to braise, drain the meat from the marinade, making sure you retain all the lovely liquor. Set aside the marinade and dry the venison on some kitchen roll. Coat the meat in the tablespoon of plain flour. Tie the juniper berries in a small square of muslin if you have any.

Heat two tablespoons of olive oil in a large casserole dish until very hot. Add the meat to the pan and brown on all sides. You may need to do this in a couple of batches. Once browned remove from the pan with a slotted spoon and set aside.

Lower the heat and add the lardons or streaky bacon, diced onion, garlic, carrots and celery to the same pan. Add a dash more olive oil if there wasn’t much left after cooking the meat. Cook on a low heat for 10 minutes, stirring frequently.

Reintroduce the venison to the pan, along with marinade liquor, herbs and muslin juniper parcel. Bring to a simmer before pouring in the stock.

Bring back to a simmer and allow to cook on a very gentle heat for two to two and a half hours, until the meat is extremely tender. Have a final taste check and add more salt and pepper to suit. Don’t forget to remove the bay leaves, thyme sprigs and juniper bundle (if used).

Serve with a sprinkling of fresh parsley over the top. Braised venison is particularly great served with my Boulangere Potatoes (made with thyme) and a simple steamed green veggie.

If you liked this, have you tried my Beef in Guinness, Pot Roast Chicken in a Lardon, White Wine & Creme Fraiche Sauce, The Best Chilli on Carne ever, or Coq au Vin recipes?


A Tartiflette for your Valentine?

This French classic from the Alps has to be the ultimate in staying in cuddling up in front of the fire cold winter night comfort food. Coupled with a fine bottle of vin rouge, a simple well dressed green salad and plenty of crusty bread this would be my perfect Valentines supper, and I’d be lovingly making this for my husband tomorrow if he happened to be in the same country as me! But alas he’s beavering away at home in France fitting new floors and ceilings whilst I’m camping out with the nippers at my parents house in Herefordshire.

Not exactly the healthiest of recipes which is why I’ve left this little gem until February, but nevertheless a wonderful and special treat. Potatoes, lardons (or streaky bacon if you can’t source), meltingly soft onions, cream and oozy cheese and that’s it. Splurge on some top quality cheese here, it’s worth it. Reblochon is traditional but Tomme de Savoie, Compte or Gruyere work well too, or any combination of these. So so simple and divine beyond belief. I defy any bloke not to be chuffed with this super calorific little number!

Enough for a romantic gorging for two, possibly with a few tasty leftovers

olive oil

220g of lardons or streaky bacon, diced

2 average sized onions, finely sliced

500g cooked potatoes, sliced

120ml double cream

220g Reblochon, Tomme de Savoie, Compte or Gruyere cheese, sliced

salt & black pepper

Pre-heat the oven to 200°C/Gas Mark 6.

In a large and deep frying pan fry the lardons or streaky bacon in a little olive oil until slightly crisp. Add the sliced onion and fry for at least 15 minutes on a low heat until very very soft. Now stir in the cooked sliced potatoes and continue to sauté until everything is slightly browning. Season with plenty of freshly ground black pepper and a little salt (be cautious with the salt, you may not need any at all) and stir in well.

Place in an overproof dish and pour over the cream. Layer the cheese slices over the top and place in the oven. Bake until bubbling and slightly golden on top.

Eat immediately, as if you couldn’t resist! Lovely with a simple well dressed green leafy salad, plenty of crusty bread and a fine bottle of gutsy red wine.


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,


Sausage & Bean Stew

It’s been a bit cold here as winter finally settles in, and I’ve had my usual annual hankering for warming stews and casseroles. With only a few sausages in the fridge a couple of days ago and fancying something substantial and flavoursome I put together this sausage and bean stew, and it really was lovely. In fact one of the tastiest dinners I’ve had in a while! And so very easy and quick to put together. Fresh rosemary aside (though I’m lucky enough to have it growing in abundance at Chez Foti), it’s made from standard store cupboard ingredients. You could obviously use dried beans, soaked overnight and cooked for an hour and a half, but as this was a fairly last minute dinner I used a few trusty tins.

A hearty and on the whole pretty healthy dinner for the whole family, but if your wee ones don’t like any heat omit the chilli flakes.

Enough for 4 hungry grown ups:

1 onion, diced

2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped

2 carrots, peeled and finely diced

2 celery stalks, finely diced

a pinch of dried chilli flakes

6 – 8 Toulouse Sausages, each cut into 4 pieces

4 sprigs of fresh rosemary, leaves removed and finely chopped

2 x 400g tins of chopped tomatoes

3 x 400g tins of Cannellini beans, drained

2 very large handfuls of spinach/chard/savoy cabbage, washed and finely shredded

salt & pepper

Heat a glug of olive oil in casserole or very large saucepan. Add the onions, garlic, carrots and celery and cook for a few minutes, stirring regularly, until softened a little. Add the chilli flakes, sausages and rosemary and continue to cook for a few more minutes.

Add the chopped tomatoes and a little seasoning. Bring to a simmer and gently cook for 20 minutes. Now add the beans and spinach/chard/cabbage to the party and cook for a further 20 minutes with the lid on.

Adjust the seasoning to suit. And it really is as easy as that! Serve in a bowl with a large hunk of bread.


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!


%d bloggers like this: