Try it with more wine

I was bored on Saturday morning and there was nothing on tv. I was bored enough to check out Coles recipe on demand on Foxtel. And it was this recipe. (This is a true story, Coles are not paying me to plug this recipe, as flimsy as this back story may be I really am this bored sometimes).

It is a good recipe. It’s beef ragu with rigatoni. Or in my case tortiglioni.

Really easy recipe, just perfect for those afternoons when the weather is doing its best to convince you it’s winter (even if it should be spring).

This is the way I made it.

the ingredients
Chuck steak 500gm
1 Onion
2 cloves Garlic
1/4 cup Balsamic vinegar
1 cup Beef stock
2 400gm Tinned tomatoes
1 stick Celery
1 Carrot
1 potato

the recipe
Coat the chuck steak in flour.
Fry it in a frying pan. (If you have a casserole dish that is stove proof use that.)
In your casserole dish add all the non-meat ingredients.
Once the meat is brown, put that in the casserole dish.
Put that in the oven for 3 hours, or until it’s stew like.
When it’s ready to serve, cook up some pasta.
Add Parmesan cheese and Bob’s your Aunty.

Such a quick but hearty dish.

Although it was a bit lacking I felt.
I would add some red wine (whilst browning the meat), and probably brown the onion in the red wine.

More wine in general.
And my Bloke wanted more vegies. Some peas maybe, or some cauliflower.
This really is a good base to add things too.

But definitely try it with more wine*.
*if you’re thinking about ‘I am Giselle, I am a french bitch’ you win a red balloon. If you have no idea what I’m talking about you need to watch Coupling. Steven Moffat wrote it. That speaks for itself.

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Cozy stews and Nanna blankets.

If there’s on theme that has kept cropping up in the last week it’s cozy.

I have an appreciation for all the seasons. Sometimes I think that we should have 1 month of each and that would solve all my problems.

The first month of every season is the best. In summer you start to wear pretty floral dresses without tights, and the heat is warm and inviting. By the time February comes round, the 40 degree days seem longer and the nights aren’t balmy they’re just exhaustingly hot.
We’re just beginning winter and so the jackets and hoodies are out of the cupboard. And everything is cozy. In two months time my bones will be cold and no amount of wooly socks, hot casseroles or squishy cowls will warm me up.

Well maybe this casserole might.

I really was impressed with myself.

the ingredients
500gm diced lamb
1/4 cup flour
1 diced onion
400gm tin chopped tomatoes
1 cup beef stock
1 cup beer
1 cup diced mushrooms
1 tbl spoon gravy powder
Dash worcestershire sauce
Salt and pepper

the recipe
Fry the onions and garlic in olive oil. Once cooked put in casserole dish. (note: if your casserole dish doesn’t fit in the oven with other trays in, take them out now)

Brown the lamb in the same pot. Add flour and cook the flour a bit.
Once that’s brown, add the beer and beef stock. Bring to the boil.

Chop the mushrooms and put in the casserole dish.
Add the tin of tomatoes, worcestershire sauce, salt, and pepper.
Add the boiling lamb mixture and stir.
Add some herbs if you like (I added dried oregano and fresh rosemary)

Put in a 220 degree oven with the lid on.

Cook for 1 hour 30. While this is cooking make the dumplings.
Put the dumplings in the casserole at 1hr30 and cook for another 30 minutes with the lid off.

the dumplings
1 cup self raising flour
60gms cubed butter
1/2 cup grated cheese (Mmm Colby)
1/2 cup rolled oats
1/4 cup milk

Rub the butter and flour together to make breadcrumbs. Then add the cheese and oats. Slowly add the milk until the mixture just combines.

Roll into even balls and place on top of casserole.

Wait for casserole to heat up the entire house and make it smell delicious.

Serve with potato bake and fresh green beans.

Await praise from boyfriend who helps himself to seconds.
Try and not lick the plate in front of said boyfriend.

Ahh the beginning of winter when the casseroles are cozy and the Nanna blankets are just warm enough.

(my 10 stitch blanket is coming along nicely btw)

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Best tuna bake ever

This is the comfort food that comfort food eats when it feels down.

And to think I very nearly didn’t put it in the oven.

Let me step back. Zomg! Tuna bake.

So I took a couple of chances, and used what was in the cupboard.
There’s three key differences between this and my usual tuna bake.
I still haven’t got any cream and was low on milk so I used evaporated milk to make the sauce,
I added ravioli into the pasta mix, and nutmeg into the sauce.
If I was only cooking it for myself I would have added pineapple but that’s neither here nor there (I’m dating a lunatic, albeit a lovable one).

And I have explicit instructions to write this one down so I can make it again, and again, and again.

the recipe
Cook the pasta. I used fusilli and cheese ravioli.

Empty 3/4 tin of evaporated milk into a pot and slowly bring to the boil.
Add a tablespoon of cornflour to the remaining 1/4 tin of evaporated milk. Whisk well.
Once the evaporated milk starts gently bubbling add the cornflour/milk mixture. Whisk until it thickens.
Add nutmeg (probably more than you think – i accidently tipped in more than I would have and it worked a treat), a small tin of corn, two small tins of tuna, and about a cup of grated cheese.
Whisk some more until the cheese has melted.

Drain the pasta, and pour into a lasagna dish.
Pour over the sauce.
Top with salt, pepper, a drizzle of garlic olive oil, and more grated cheese.

Bake in the oven (about 180deg) for half an hour.
You know when the cheese goes all crispy and slightly burnt but ridiculously delicious? Yeah that’s how you want the cheese on top to be.

Serve with some fresh parsley and a good episode of Grand Designs.

(They restored a sea rescue house and it was right on the shoreline, Kevin wore a nautical striped suit and the house was all round and it had pretty red window frames. It was a very relaxing house.)

I think this would be a perfect camping recipe. It’s mostly in tins and uses dried pasta. And would go very nicely baking on an open fire.

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Chicken Casserole, courtesy of Not All Tea & Scones

A recipe from the cookbook of the lovely not all tea and scones. As well as having some gorgeous photos on instagram, she’s working her way through the CWA cookbook.

My Great-nan (as well as being an inspirational woman) was a member of the CWA. She worked on a farm all her life, and these recipes remind me of visits to the farm.

So I’ve been wanting to try one of these recipes for a while. So when the bestie had to come over for dinner (because she’s just moved into the area and her fridge is being delivered tomorrow but she doesn’t have a tv yet and needed some company – yay for bestie being within walking distance) I didn’t want pasta, and I didn’t want salad, but I did want a casserole.

So this fit the bill.

Some minor alterations included the use of hp sauce ( just because), the tinned tomatoes being flavored with garlic and herbs (I love shortcuts), and not using two whole chickens (because I too was not feeding a football team).

The end result? Very delicious. With some vegies on the side, and some rice to soak up the juices, it had rave reviews.

Thank you CWA.

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Chicken pot pies

I used this recipe to use up a cooked chook that I had bought last week.

Little ramekins of goodness.

I modified the recipe somewhat, as it called for chicken thighs and I had half a cooked chook.

So cooked some onion, bacon, and frozen peas.
Then some tinned mushrooms in butter sauce for the sole reason that, that’s what I had in the cupboard.
The rest of the recipe I followed, mixing flour and water together before adding that and chicken stock and milk to the chicken already in the pan.

That went into ramekins, then covered in puff pastry and into a 200 degree oven for 20 minutes.

Then a glass of wine, a hundred from Hughes in the cricket, and some delicious chicken pot pies were ready to be devoured.

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Comfort food is required

Apricot chicken with rice, the way mum made it.
Out of a packet.

Chicken drumsticks, coated in apricot chicken mix, apricot nectar, and put in the oven until slightly burnt (exactly the way I remember).
Then served with white rice.

Accompanied by a new knitting project (bathius scarf) and finishing series 3 of Mad Men.

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Sunday roast

Sundays are a lazy day, mostly. Once all the housework’s out of the way, or procrastinated away, one thing I love to do is spend time reading cooking books and magazines, planning what I could cook for dinner without the rush of the after-work rush.

As I was flicking through, making myself hungry, I asked J if he had any ideas, me said I never make him pasta bake. I argued with “I cooked pasta three times this week” but in his eyes it’s not the same.

So I built a meal around pasta bake.
So tomato pasta bake, cheesy potato and cauliflower, and roast beef was the plan, with a french onion soup to start.
I say it was the plan because it didn’t quite turn out as expected.

The french onion soup (I thought) was pretty good. J thought it had way too many onions in it. I agree, but loving onions I didn’t mind it as much.
The recipe was from a Donna Hay magazine, and was pretty much cook onion and garlic, add white wine and beef stock. Serve.
It was a nice broth, so maybe next time I just take all the onions out of J’s serving and put them in mine.

The cheesy cauliflower and potato was probably the laziest way to make a potato bake or cauliflower cheese. I don’t think it could even come under that category. The potato and cauliflower were boiled for about 3 minutes just so they didn’t have to do all their cooking in the oven. That went into a casserole dish, on top of that went a tin of (low-fat)cream, some mustard powder, grated cheese, salt, and pepper. That went in the oven for an hour.
I could have taken the time to make a decent sauce, but I simply couldn’t be bothered.
When I served it, I just had to take the cauliflower and potato out of the cream. There was rather a lot of it, too much really. But it still tasted good.

The pasta bake I was scared of. Given that it was the only item that J had actually requested I was slightly nervous that it wouldn’t live up to expectations.
So I boiled some penne, and I made a sauce out of a tin of tomatoes, some Worcestershire sauce, some dried chilli flakes, and some water to wash out the tomato tin.
That all went into a lasagne dish, with some cheese grated over the top.
It was probably in there for too long so it was a tad crispy on top.
But that wasn’t the biggest disappointment.

The roast beef.
First time I’ve cooked roast beef.
Well… silly old me didn’t read the instructions properly. There was a note (in little tiny writing) above the instructions, saying “per 500g”.
Now I didn’t read that. I just saw the cooking times and went with that.
So after half an hour we had one very rare piece of beef.

Now I’m colour blind, specifically I have trouble telling shades apart. The difference between red and brown, pink and red, white and light pink; those tiny variances in colour which mean the difference between cooked and uncooked.
So I served up the beef uncooked.

Back it went into the oven for another half an hour.
The little bits that I had chopped off only needed 10 minutes.
So we ate the rest of the meal, and then had some bits of meat.

After half an hour in the oven we took it out, wrapped it in foil and let it rest (as you’re meant to do). After half an hour I thought it just might be cool enough to make into sandwiches.
Lo and behold, it still isn’t cooked!
Back into the oven for another 20 minutes.
This time, sod it! I’m not waiting for it to cool, I’m just hacking into it and checking if it’s cooked.
Chopped it in half, right down the middle.
It looked cooked (J verified my colour deficient opinion).
So it cooled so I could make sandwiches (it was about 9:30 at this point).
20 minutes later it looked slightly less cooked, but probably just a little on the rare side.
Into sandwiches it went.

Note to self – buy a meat thermometer.

So a rather staggered meal, of oniony soup, crispy potato bake, overly creamy potatoes and cauliflower, and undercooked meat which then took another hour.
It was mostly edible. But when a meal is described as edible it’s not generally a good thing.

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On a wintery evening

A stew was in order.
It was a blustery day in perth.
The sort of day where you want to curl up with a good book, but had to be at work instead.

So at about 10 o clock i decided that a stew was in order. Something nice and hearty; a reason to have the oven on.

It wasn’t the greatest stew i’ve ever made. My head wasn’t quite in the game and i forgot to add flavour.
And when i did it was a bit too late.

Onion and chuck steak went in a fry pan to brown.
Then some flour went over that, as a thickening agent.
I imagine it like a roux sauce where your flour and butter stick together and then thicken milk, except for a casserole i use beer. And in this case Fosters.
My boy and I are two Australians who actually drink Fosters, but it is hard to find.

While that was bubbling away i chopped some potatoes, carrots, capsicum, and mushrooms.

They went in the bottom of my little casserole dish and then the meat on top.
That went in the oven for half an hour.
I checked on it at half an hour, the potatoes still weren’t cooked, and it was very bland.
So i added some salt and pepper, Worcestershire sauce, and HP barbeque sauce (seriously what was i thinking not adding any of this earlier??) and stirred that through the best i could.
Another half an hour and it was still looking a bit runny, so i put it back in the oven for another 10 minutes.

It still wasn’t really thick (i don’t know why i can’t get a nice thick stew – to the research-mobile!), but i was hungry.

It definitely hit the spot, but i’m going to have to practice some more to make it good.

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