Tag Archives: Casserole

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

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