Category Archives: Slow cooking

Slow cooked shoulder of lamb

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For our special New Year’s Eve meal this year, we decided upon lamb.  The original aim was leg of lamb but upon a disappointing shopping trip on 30th, we opted for lamb shoulder due to availability.  One word of caution; pretty expensive!

I scoured the internet for recipes when we got back and found this one:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/home/you/article-2564743/Mary-Berry-Cooks-Slow-roast-shoulder-lamb-rosemary-paprika-rub-fresh-mint-sauce.html

Mary Berry is better known for her baking but as I’m a big fan of hers, I was keen to give a savoury recipe a go.

First I made the mint sauce earlier in the day.  Very straightforward; just mixing the honey, white wine vinegar and chopped mint together in a bowl and storing in a bowl for later.  A really good mint taste was achieved and controlling the amount of sugar in the sauce was great also (compared to shop bought sauce).

I got the lamb out of the fridge about 3 hours before I started cooking it to bring it to room temperature.  Then I made the rosemary and paprika rub (with oil) and spread it over both sides of the lamb shoulder.

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I made 2 pints of chicken stock and added this to the baking tray with one chopped onion before adding a rack above the tray and placing the lamb on it.

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I put it in the oven for 30 mins on 220 degrees to brown it a little (next time I would do this at 200 or 210 because I think it was too high – still getting used to my new oven :-))

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Then I took it out, covered it in foil and put it back in the oven for 3 hours on 140 degrees.

All fairly straightforward so far so my tips for this recipe are be careful with how much stock you use or keep an eye on it at least.  I checked it after about an hour and all the stock had dried up.  Not a big problem; I could make and add more but I was more worried about the state of the burnt baking tray under the lamb (actually it seems fine now!).  Then I think I added too much as we had an excessive amount of gravy!  Again, not a problem, as I love gravy so will be using the leftovers today!

Final tip is just the impracticality of taking out a tray filled with stock from the oven to repeatedly baste.  Even though I now have a beautiful new oven at a normal height in my new kitchen (!), still it seemed a bit precarious so the basting frequency was somewhat reduced from what was recommended in the recipe!  There are plenty of lamb shoulder recipes out there so next time I would be looking for one without stock underneath and where the lamb could sit directly in the roasting tray.

However, after all this cooking, the lamb was amazing!  Very tender, tasty and the gravy was very rich!  I loved the homemade mint sauce also.  I served it all with leek and mushrooms and we polished it off in no time.  We bought a shoulder of 1.5kg and managed to finish it between two people (with seconds of course!).  So either we are very greedy or the recipe that states 2.2kg serving 6-8 people is a little ambitious.  It’s probably a combination of both these things…

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Filed under English, Lamb, Roast, Slow cooking

Moussaka

The inspiration for this recipe came from the veg box again, having received three aubergines this week.  When I thought what I could do with aubergines my mind went back to growing up and my mum making delicious moussaka!

I did a quick search and the first recipe online that I found was from Rick Stein, who I love, so all in all a quick recipe search!

http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/moussaka_70308

The day started early in the supermarket trying to get lamb mince.  I don’t think it is so common in Spain but as in all good supermarkets, they have quite an extensive butcher counter we were able to get some minced for us.  A few eyebrows were raised when we said we wanted to mince that nice piece of leg that they had but anyway we achieved our goal!

The recipe does take a couple of hours so make sure you set enough time aside.

I started by browning the onion and garlic, before adding the lamb mince and frying for 3-4 mins.  I then added the wine, tinned tomatoes, half a teaspoon of cinnamon (I didn’t have a stick) and about 1 tablespoon of dried oregano (I didn’t have it fresh!).  I then left it to simmer for about 40 mins.

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I then started on the aubergine base, by cutting my aubergines lengthways into thin(ish) strips.  I used 2 rather than 3 in the end as it seemed like a fair amount already.  I think this was a wise choice also considering how full my dish got at the end!

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I fried the aubergine strips in batches adding a bit of salt and pepper as I went and then layered them at the bottom of the dish.

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The final step was to make the béchamel sauce.  I melted the butter, added the flour and then slowly added the milk, stirring constantly.  Then I let it simmer for 10 mins before adding the cheese and then beating in the eggs.  It made for a rich and thick béchamel.

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I layered the meat sauce on the aubergines, followed by the béchamel sauce.  Fairly straightforward but clearly my dish wasn’t big enough as I couldn’t fit all the sauce in and you can see it was pretty full!  The problem I have though is that in my very small kitchen, I have a very small oven so bigger dishes are not an option right now.  But in other exciting news, the renovation of our new place is reaching the final stages so possibly my next post will be from a normal size oven but still in a relatively small kitchen 🙂

Size issues aside, the recipe is great.  Yes, it does take a bit of time but it’s not complicated and the taste of the moussaka is rich and filling!

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Filed under Casserole, Cheese, Food, Herbs, Recipes, Slow cooking, Uncategorized, Vegetables

Spinach, spinach and more spinach!

Following the veg box delivery last week, I had a lot of spinach in my fridge so this weekend has been dominated by recipes including this green vegetable!!!

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It started Saturday morning with Eggs and Spinach en cocotte.  I had done a cocotte before:

https://creationsfromlacuineta.wordpress.com/2013/12/21/oeufs-en-cocotte-eggs-in-pots/

They are really tasty, a real treat for a weekend breakfast so a good way to use the spinach.  Again it was really tasty and you can find the recipe I used here:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/eggsandspinachencoco_88059

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Next up was Saturday dinner 🙂  I really fancied a curry, so I did this Chicken and Spinach Balti recipe:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/chickenandspinachbal_86977

Really nice flavours from the yoghurt marinade and the spinach gave it something extra for sure.  I usually don’t have spinach in my curries and I’ve eaten a lot of curries over the course of my life so quite a turning point!

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And now this brings us to Sunday night!  As I’m writing this, I’ve been cooking a Ghanaian Beef and Spinach Stew for about 2 hours by now!

http://www.girlcooksworld.com/2011/03/shoko-ghanaian-beef-and-spinach-stew.html

It comes from a really nice blog which features gluten free recipes.  I didn’t have all the ingredients (serrano peppers for example) but I have suitable substitutes and also was able to add a couple of my organic carrots and some leeks.  You can see what it looks like below!  I just need to add the spinach and it will soon be ready to eat!

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For anyone who has not yet had enough of spinach while reading this post, you can find all the health benefits of spinach here:

http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/howto/guide/ingredient-focus-spinach

I should definitely be feeling stronger and ready to tackle Monday!!!

Thanks to the BBC for providing a lot of inspiration this weekend!

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Filed under Beef, Casserole, Food, Food blogging, French, Healthy, Herbs, Indian, Recipes, Rice, Slow cooking, Stew, Uncategorized, Vegetables, Vegetarian

Boeuf bourguignon avec des quenelles de baguettes (Burgundy beef with baguette dumplings)

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My final blog of the year on the last day of the year!  I’m hoping to end the year in the same way I want to live the next one and a part of that is cooking nice, healthy food that I will continue to write about.  Maybe this time next year I will see that my cooking is progressing with evidence on here!

The reason for this recipe is that we had a lot of beef in the freezer as we bought part of a cow a while ago and are still working our way through it!  Also I got a new recipe book over Christmas that I wanted to try out.  It is called Little Paris Kitchen.  I was not too keen on the idea of this book/programme to begin with as it seemed too similar to my “Creations from la cuineta” but I soon realised there was room in the world for both of us and sucuumbed to the fact she has some really nice recipes!

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I started the 3.5 hour journey of this recipe by browning the flour dusted stewing meat in batches and removing.  Then I added the lardons, garlic, onions, herbs and spices to the same pan and cooked until golden brown.

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I put the browned meat back in and also added the wine, water, tomato paste and sugar.  Seeing so much wine at this point was a difficult stage in the process what with having a monster wine hangover from the previous night!

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I stirred everything together and then cooked gently on the hob for 3 hours (although you can put in the oven on 150 degrees if you prefer).

For the dumplings, I used a baguette from the previous day and cut into small cubes before adding the hot milk and mixing together.  After leaving it (covered) for 15 mins, I seasoned with nutmeg, salt, pepper, parsley, egg and 1 tablespoon of flour (if the mixture seems too sticky you can always add a bit more flour at this stage).  I really helpful tip in this recipe was to wet your hands before making the mixture into the dumplings.  With the ingredients I used, I was able to make 8 dumplings which I then put in a airtight container in the fridge ready for cooking.

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20 mins before the stew was ready I chopped 150g of mushrooms and added to the pan.

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For the dumplings, I heated some butter and browned them on each side (approximately 5 mins cooking time).  This part was quite fiddly to get all the areas covered and without burning my fingers too much!

So despite fighting with the hangover I managed to complete this recipe within the 3.5 hours it required.  As you would hope, after cooking for that long, the food was great!  Very tasty and it was a nice combination with the dumplings.  I had never made dumplings before and they are still not my favourite thing but having that bread consistency with the sauce is quite complimentary.

So to anyone reading this, silent or otherwise, I wish you a very happy new year!!!  Thanks for reading 🙂

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Ingredients

  • 500g stewing beef (fricando)
  • 2 tablespoons of plain flour
  • 2 tablespoons of oil
  • 150g lardons
  • 10 shallots, peeled
  • 2 gloves of garlic crushed until flat
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon of parsley
  • 1 teaspoon of thyme
  • 1 teaspoon of rosemary
  • 3 cloves
  • 10 peppercorns, crushed
  • 500 ml of red wine
  • 300 ml of water
  • 1 tablespoon of tomato paste
  • A pich of sugar
  • 150g of mushrooms
  • 150g stale baguette
  • 200 ml milk
  • A pinch of nutmeg
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 tablespoon of parsley
  • 1 egg
  • 1-2 tablespoons of plain flour
  • A knob of butter for frying

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Filed under Beef, Casserole, Food, French, Herbs, Recipes, Slow cooking, Stew, Uncategorized

Boeuf aux oignons avec pommes duchesse (Beef stew with onions and red wine with Duchess potatoes)!

It was a friend’s birthday last weekend and I missed it as I was away so this blog/lunch was in honour of her birthday and gave me a good excuse to try the new recipe book (Mastering the art of French cooking 🙂 ).  In the end there were 7 of us eating so I was under a bit of pressure to not let it go wrong!  We did not have enough seats or proper cutlery so at least the food should be good!

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Having scanned through a lot of the book  and being a little scared of some of the techniques/cuts of meat/equipment required, I opted for Beef stew with potatoes (full ingredient list at the end of the post)!  Sounds much better in French!  Maybe I am simplifying it a bit as 3-4 hours of work is not too bad.

This is at the beginning of the cooking where I was a bit fresher…

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I started with browning the lardons in oil for a few minutes and then removing with a slotted spoon.  In the meantime, I dried the beef stew meat with kitchen towel and then browned in batches for a couple of minutes on each side before also removing and adding some salt and pepper.

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I chopped 3 onions and browned them in the fat of the meat, for 8-10 minutes.

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The recipe book states that you should make a herb bouquet tied in washed cheesecloth.  Very good if you are able to do this but I mixed two cloves of garlic with some thyme, parsley and bay leaves and added directly into the stew.  I removed the bay leaves at the end and it worked fine I think!

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For the beef stock or bouillon, I used two Oxo cubes which are my favourite stock cubes which I buy in bulk from the UK!

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Once I had prepared the stock and the herbs, I added these to the browned onions along with the beef, the lardons, 2 cups of red wine and also a peeled, de-seeded and chopped tomato.

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I then left this simmering for approximately 2 hours (stirring occasionally) and moved on to the pommes duchesse.

I boiled 8 baking potatoes with the skin on for 25 minutes and then started the fun task of peeling hot potatoes.  At this point, these techniques get a little lost on me.  I’m sure there is a valid reason for peeling the potatoes after cooking but I would question whether any advantages gained outweigh the pain of peeling a hot potato (of course I’m not so stupid that I intended to only use my fingers but using any kind of implement with this is a bit tricky, so your hands get involved eventually!).

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Once they were all peeled I purified them in a blender.  This should be an easy step but as half of my blender broke when I had to ship my things to Spain I always end up doing everything in minature and using tools that are half the size of what they should be!

Once it was a smooth paste I heated the mixture in a saucepan for a couple of minutes to remove the moisture, then added 6 egg yolks, 6 tablespoons of soft butter, 4 tablespoons of creme fraiche, mixing each time a new ingredient was added.  Once off the heat, I added a pinch of nutmeg and some salt and pepper.

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The recipe requires that you pipe the mixture into a decorative design ready for cooking and serving…

I don’t have a piping bag or a serving dish that would be big enough to contain all the potato and the stew so my version was to pour it into a buttered baking tray with the intention of cutting it into portions when cooked.  I let it rest while preparing the remainder of the lunch covered loosely in cling film.  To finish off the potatoes put them in the oven for 25 mintues at 200 degrees after pouring on 3 tablespoons of melted butter and sprinkling 3 tablespoons of grated parmesan cheese on top.

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Back to the beef;  I separated the liquid from the rest of the stew using a colander, then mixed 4 tablespoons of flour with 3 tablespoons of butter to make a smooth paste.  I found my hands were better for this task than a rubber spatula.  I added this mixture a little at a time to the stew sauce mixture, mixing with a whisk (“who” appears later in this post in a group photo…) until the consistency was thick enough to coat the meat.  Then I added the ingredients back together again and simmered a little more while the potatoes were finishing in the oven.

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I served the stew with circles of the potato and also with carrots.

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So the verdict;  the food was great!  Really good, strong flavours and the stew and potatoes work really well together.  I was worried that serving mashed potato with a stew would mean a big watery mess on the plate but due to the step of thickening the sauce, this did not happen.

For my style of cooking, this was relatively time consuming but definitely worth the effort from time to time.  It was really nice to learn new things even if I did not follow all the techniques word for word!

And the main thing;  I think the birthday girl enjoyed it!  She contributed by making her own birthday cake 😛 even if we did provide the candles 🙂

Big thanks to my special guests!

Ingredients

Beef stew

  • 200g of lardons
  • Oil
  • Approx. 1kg stewing beef
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 3 onions
  • 2 cups of beef stock (approx. 350ml)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon of thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon of parsley
  • 1 tomato
  • 2 cups of red wine
  • 4 tablespoons of flour
  • 3 tablespoons of soft butter

Potatoes

  • 8 baking potatoes
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 9 tablespoons soft butter
  • 4 tablespoons of creme fraiche
  • Pinch of nutmeg
  • 3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

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Filed under Beef, Casserole, Cheese, French, Herbs, Slow cooking, Stew, Uncategorized

The swimming chicken!

I actually made this last weekend but it’s been a busy time starting a new job hence the delay in posting!  It is based on Heston Blumental’s perfect chicken recipe and for those who don’t know him; he is a British chef who likes to use the science of food.  So for this roast chicken, I had to undertake a few additional steps to my usual way of cooking!

First thing is to brine the chicken.  That is to soak it in salted water for about 8 hours which has the result of keeping in the moisture when cooking the chicken.  Heston thinks many roast chickens are dry and as they are made up of 80% water, they key is to keep this moisture in.  I’m no scientist so I won’t attempt to explain this in any more detail but google is always on hand!

I did not follow Heston’s recipe exactly but here is the link in case anyone wants to or for a few more basic details of the recipe and ingredients:

http://www.channel4.com/4food/recipes/chefs/heston-blumenthal/roast-chicken-recipe

After the brining process, I squirted lemon juice inside the cavity of the chicken (I did not have a lemon in the fridge, nor one ready on my tree!) along with some thyme.  I rubbed the skin with butter and put in the oven for about 2 hours on 100 degrees (the lowest our little oven will go to – remember the name of this blog; la cuineta – the little kitchen, and you can see the little oven below!).

I then rested the chicken outside the oven for about 30 mins and in the meantime par-boiled some roast potatoes and carrots for 10 mins before putting them in the (now empty) roasting tin for 30 mins at about 200 degrees.  I turned the oven up to the highest temperature (250 degrees) and then put the chicken back in along with the potatoes and carrots for about 15 mins.

Finally, I carved and served along with gravy.  I’m afraid I cheated here and made my more traditional gravy using a bit of the juices from the roasting tin along with Bisto granules and some freshly ground pepper.  Maybe next time I attempt the gravy also!

I have to say the result of all this is fantastic!  If I were a scientist maybe I could experiment to see whether the brining or the slow cooking has the greatest effect but I can say, the two combined do produce a really succulent chicken and I would definitely recommend making the extra effort of brining before cooking.  The chicken literally falls apart as you carve and eat and it surely is close to being a perfect roast chicken!

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Filed under Chicken, English, Food, Recipes, Slow cooking

Beef and honey stew

This is a dish I’ve cooked a few times before and I wanted to put it on here as it’s quite simple but very tasty.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/beef_and_honey_stew_47298

You don’t need many ingredients and the preparation is straightforward. The only real complication is the cooking time; between 2 to 4 hours so good if you have many other things to do in your home while it is cooking or you are happy to leave it cooking while you are out.

I bought beef that was already chopped but otherwise cutting the meat would be the first step. After covering in flour (I did it on a plate rather than the recommended bag method) and cooking in batches until brown, I cooked the onion and then added the remaining ingredients along with the cooked beef.

Valencian honey!

Final steps

I cooked it for 4 hours and the meat was very tender. I added the potatoes at the end but I would say they took 40 mins to cook rather than the 20 stated (I’m sure cutting them into smaller pieces would have negated this issue).

I cooked this recipe for guests who were trying it for the first time and they seemed to like it a lot so a good sign!

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Filed under Beef, Casserole, Food, Recipes, Slow cooking, Stew