Monday 11 June 2018

"Anything Goes!" beef stew

No, this is not a Cole Porter musical - it's a fabulous and versatile winter dish!  (But I bet you've already started to hum some show tunes by now ....)

Slow cooking is a forgiving and sensible way of cooking, which adds bucket-loads of flavour to ordinary ingredients, and is a great chance to use up lots of vegetables in your fridge.

I needed to use up some beans, mushrooms, baby tomatoes and carrots, and thought I'd make a hearty beef stew to enjoy with friends this wintry long weekend.

Here's what went in to the slow cooker:

1.  Before I started on my vegetables, I browned about a kilo of diced gravy beef, which I'd tossed in some plain flour and salt and pepper.  Hearing the beef sizzle and smelling it cook made me sure I was cooking up a nice meal!

2.  Once the meat was browed (I did it in two batches, so as not to overcrowd the pan), I placed the meat in to the slow cooker, and then poured in about a third of a jar of passata / tomato sauce (which I also needed to use up) and topped it up with some water.

3.  Next were the vegetables.  I peeled and diced three medium carrots.  I washed and sliced a punnet of button mushrooms.  I also "topped and tailed" a handful of green beens.   They all went in to the pot!

4.  I also had a lovely punnet of heirloom baby tomatoes on the vine that I would normally roast and put in a salad or couscous, but I needed to uses these too, so I sliced them and added them for extra tomatoey flavour!

5.  For more seasoning, I added half a pack of french onion soup mix, which is a really easy was of adding extra flavour, much like using stock.

6.  Because I also had it in the fridge, I stirred in a nice big bunch of freshly chopped continental parsley as well.

7.  I actually cooked the stew for ages because I had plenty of time over the long weekend, and the meat was beautifully tender by the end of it.  Normally 8 hours on low, or 6 hours on high is about right, but if you have more time, it just gets better with extra cooking, as long as the cooker is not running dry.

8.  To thicken up the stew towards the end of the cooking, I turned the cooker on high, and had the lid ajar.  I also mixed a few teaspoons of corn flour in a teacup with some cold water to form a paste and then stirred this in too to help thicken the gravy.

I served the "Anything Goes!" beef stew with creamy mashed potatoes and steamed and peppered shredded cabbage, and it was a warm, wintry hit!

Happy cooking Cookers!!!
x x x

Friday 6 April 2018

Quince Paste Perfection

I recently discovered my Grandmother’s quince tree was laded with fruit. It brought back memories of her getting excited about cooked quinces, which I could not see the fascination and just really thought quinces were grouse…ahhh how times have changed. Now … no cheese platter is complete without quince paste!!

It was such a delight to find just how easy it is to make quince paste in the slow cooker. You do need 12 hours at home which is fine if you have a raining day, but who has time to wait around for one of those. So I tired this recipe overnight. 
 I diced 2kg of quinces with skin and placed in the slow cooker at 9pm on low for 9 hours. 

Allow to cool, puree fruit with a stick blender and continue to cook on high for another 2 to 3 hours to thicken up the mixture. Then carefully pour into sterilised jars - Voilà!!

Sunday 1 April 2018

Easter Feast ~ Lamb Shanks


½ cup pearl barley

2 tbsps. olive oil

4 French-trimmed lamb shanks (800g)

1 large brown onion, sliced thinly

2 stalks celery

2 medium carrots, sliced thickly

1 large red capsicum, chopped coarsely

4 cloves garlic, crushed

2 tsps. fennel seeds

1 tsp. smoked paprika

2 dried bay leaves

1/3 cup tomatoes paste

400g canned died tomatoes

3 cups beef stock


fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves

grated parmesan cheese

Heat the remaining oil in the sauce pan and sauté onion, celery, carrot and capsicum for about 5 minutes until vegetables are soften. Add garlic, fennel seeds, paprika and bay leaves, continue to stir for 2 minutes until it becomes fragrant. Add in tomato paste and cook for another 2 minutes. Add in tomatoes, stock and barley and bring to the boil.

Transfer mixture into the slow cooker and place lamb on top. Cook on low for 8 hours.

Serve with a sprinkle of parsley and parmesan- buon appetito!

Source: Women’s Weekly - Comfort Food

Easter Feast ~ Chocolate Pots


5 large egg yolks

500ml double cream

2 tbsp caster sugar

¼ tsp vanilla extract

a pinch of salt

115g dark 70 % cocoa chocolate plus 15g to serve

20 ml brandy (optional)

These chocolate pots are perfect for something a bit fancy for an Easter celebration.  I generally don’t prepare many desserts the night before but for Easter I wanted to do something a little bit special and these were so worth it!! 

I placed 4 heatproof teacups that fit in the slow cooker or you could also use ramekins, as long as they can stand up in the slow cooker.  In a saucepan place cream sugar, vanilla extract and salt and place on a medium heat and stir until sugar dissolves. Increase the heat to a higher temperature to boil. Add chocolate and stir until it melts.
Combine the chocolate mixture with egg yolks and brandy, whisking continuously.  Carefully strain mixture in to a jug, then pour into the teacups. Cover each teapot with cling wrap, then put in the slow cooker in a bath of boiling water that goes at least hallway up the side of the teacups.

Place the lid on and cook on low for an hour until the mixture is set around the edge but slightly wobbly in the centres. I used my thick washing up gloves to carefully pick up each cup out of the hot water, then remove the clip wrap from each cup and  allow to cool.  Once cooled recover each cup with cling wrap and chill for at least 4 hours and up to 24 hours.

Serve with sweeten cream and chocolate.

Adapted recipe from: I Love My Slow Cooker by Bevery Blanc

Sunday 24 December 2017

Spicy Nuts!

This is a great little recipe to have in your repertoire to make nibbles for a party, or gifts to give to friends at Christmas.

We used two cups of almonds and one cup of cashews, but you can use your favourite mixture of nuts.

We whipped up one egg white and folded the egg white mixture through the nuts and tipped them in to the sprayed basin of the slow cooker.

Next we added our spices - 1 teaspoon of chilli powder; 1 teaspoon of paprika; 1 teaspoon of cumin.

We also added a dash of salt, and a tablespoon of honey too!

Then we popped the slow cooker on low for two hours, and then for the last 10 minutes we had the slow cooker on high with the lid off.

We then let the nuts cool on a lined baking tray. 


Saturday 16 December 2017

Perfect pickled pork!!

Pickled pork is a lean and tender cut of the loin of pork, which has been brined by the butcher, and which simply needs to be slow-cooked at home!  It is incredibly simple and delicious, and affordable too!  This cold cut of meat is a great family favourite to have on hand in the fridge to serve with cheese, relishes and crusty bread during the holiday season.  Here's what to do ...

1.  Place your piece of pork in the slow cooke, leaving the butcher's netting in order to hold the meat together as it cooks (because it becomes so mouth-wateringly tender!).

2.  Add 1 cup of white vinegar to the slow cooker.

3.  Drop in 4 or 5 bay leaves.

4.  Add a teaspoon of peppercorns.

5.  Top up the slow cooker basin with water to the point where it just covers the meat.

6.  Pop on the lid to cook on high for 6 hours.

7.  Next, you can choose to let the pork cool down in the brine, or you can carefully remove it and let it cool on the bench. Do not remove the netting until the pork has cooled down completely.

Sliced and ready to serve!

Then you're all set to slice your pickled pork and serve with with your favourite mustards, pickles, chutneys, cheeses and breads.  Enjoy!

Sunday 12 November 2017

Homemade steak pie (made with love)

My mum makes the best homemade meat pie, with a delicious slow-cooked steak filling, in her beautiful signature short crust pastry.  I was recently fortunate enough for her to visit with me, and, sure enough, mum made me this fabulous dish as one of my favourites.  It's a simple enough recipe, but it's the good quality ingredients and hearty nature of this meal that make it such a winner ... and it's even better when made with love 💗

1.  You'll need a kilo of diced steak for this recipe.  You can use top side or chuck steak.

2.  Toss the steak in about half a cup of plain flour.

3.  Spray the pot of the slow cooker with olive oil spray or Pure and Simple, and then add in the floured steak to the pot.

4.  Add a pack of french onion soup to the slow cooker and one large chopped onion.  Stir through evenly.

5.  Cover the meat with about an inch of water (you can add boiled water from the kettle).  As an alternative, you can add a cup of white wine and top up the rest with water.

6.  Season with pepper and salt, and put the slow cooker on high.

7.  Cook the meat for about 5-6 hours on high (and, if you can stir it mid-way through cooking, then you can check that it's mixed well).

8.  At the end of the cooking time, thicken the stewed meat with some gravy powder.

9.  Using either store-bought savoury short crust pastry, or homemade pastry, use the slow-cooked beef as the filling for a large family-sized pie, and serve it with creamy mashed potatoes, and your favourite steamed or boiled vegetables.

This will definitely become one of your favourites!

Thursday 2 November 2017

Rose and Ragu!

How does a nice cold glass of gorgeous pink rose and a bowl of steaming hot pasta with homemade ragu sound?  Delicious!

A dear friend gave me her recipe for this wonderful, rich slow cook ragu pasta sauce, and it is a real winner.

Here's what you'll need to get started ...
  • 500 grams of organic beef, diced into cubes
  • One large onion.
  • Two cups of passata (tomato puree)
  • One cup of good red wine🍷 
  • 1/4 cup of fresh basil 🌿 
  • Half a bulb of garlic cloves - peeled 
  • Salt to taste 

Here's her wonderful recipe ...

1. Fry the diced onion in olive oil till golden, then add it to the slow cooker.

2.  Lightly coat the beef in some flour and brown the meat in the same pan.

3.  Add all the other ingredients in to the slow cooker, and cook on low for 16 hrs (as may friend said, this may sound overkill but it results in a delicious, rich sauce - and she's right!!!).

4. Serve with egg papperdelle, freshly grated parmesan and a lovely glass of rose!

Cheers and buon appetito!