Wednesday, 1 March 2017

Braised Beef Spanish Style with Chimichurri



This recipe is a revelation and once you make it it will end up being a staple in your cooking rotations. You will notice that I keep the beef and sauce separate, and only combine the two when reheating. The reason I do this is so that I can make a large batch, portion the beef into zip-lock bags and freeze them, along with pouring the cooking liquid into ice cube trays, freezing and then also into zip lock bags for portion control.  

This way I can reheat the beef and sauce whenever I like. Also, keeping the beef separate to the sauce means that it can be used in a whole different manner of ways. I've used it in curries- cooking veggies in coconut milk with red curry paste and then adding the beef at the end as an easy week night dinner. It can be added to salads, pizzas and even stir-frys. 

Or you can just eat it once cooked with the sauce over a bed of rice or with some vegetables or roast potatoes on the side as I did with our meal. I highly recommend making the chimichurri to go with it if you will be serving it this way!

You will need..
2.5-3kg trimmed beef brisket, cut into 6 or 7 even chunks
salt and pepper
olive oil for frying
1 large carrot
1 large onion
1 large celery stick
4 whole, peeled garlic cloves
1 tsp fennel seed
1 tsp coriander seed
1 tsp thyme
4-5 cloves
1 cinnamon quill
2-3 bay leaves
parsley stalks
1 bottle Spanish dry red wine
2 Lt beef or veal stock

Chimichurri
chives
flat-leaf parsley
coriander
oregano
red wine vinegar
olive oil

Method...
1. Preheat your slow cooker to high.
2. Trim the outer layer of fat off the brisket, then dice into several large even-sized chunks

3. Peel the garlic, onion and carrot. Dice the onion, carrot and celery.

4. Fry the dried spices in a dry pan until fragrant, remove. Add olive oil and seal the beef pieces on high until browned. Remove. Add the vegetables and sauté until lightly browned. 

5. Transfer vegetables, beef, spices, wine and stock to the slow cooker. Cover with a lid and braise for 4-6 hours or until beef can be pulled apart easily with tongs.

6. Remove brisket from cooking liquid with a slotted spoon, then use a colander strain out vegetables. Compost or discard vegetables and place the cooking liquid into a pot. Place on to simmer for 20 minutes or until reduced to a jus. Meanwhile, use a fork to pull the beef into chunks. Place beef into a container and sauce into another container and refrigerate overnight.

7. Make the chimichurri by combining all the herbs in a food processor. Blitz until finely diced. Add the red wine vinegar and olive oil, then process until a chunky herby sauce has formed. Place in an airtight container in the fridge and store for up to a week.
8. To serve, take out a portion of beef, and a few spoonfuls of the cooking liquid and place into a pot on the stove. Heat through and serve over a bed of rice or some roasted potatoes. Spoon the chimichurri over the top.



Monday, 6 February 2017

Grilled Salmon, Chickpea, Quinoa and Kale Salad with Tasty Tahini Dressing


If you are new to cooking salmon, heres a great little resource for pan-frying a really good bit of fish----> http://www.thekitchn.com/how-to-cook-perfect-salmon-fillets-230150

I would recommend using this method for most fish and meats. Bringing seafood or meat to room temperature before cooking and using a hot pan is key for ensuring your protein doesn't 'seize' up and go tough while cooking. Also, I recommend resting EVERYTHING before you serve it. Most people know to rest meats like beef and lamb but not many people know that fish and chicken also require a good rest time to ensure tenderness and juiciness.

Always cook the side you intend to serve facing up first (chef trick), and if you are a fan of crispy salmon skin then ensure you salt the skin (just like you would crackling) and cook it first in a good bit of oil. As you can see from my images, I didn't serve skin side up as we passed on the skin this time- but it always adds a nice bit of crunchiness to the dish if you choose to serve it that way.

You will need...
1 cup quinoa, uncooked
2-3 large kale leaves, stems removed, washed and torn into small pieces
1 cup shredded red cabbage
2 sprigs coriander, washed and chopped (including stalks)
1/2 lemon, juced
2 Tsp coconut oil
salt and pepper

1 tin (400gr) chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 spring onion, finely sliced
1 Tbsp coconut oil
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp oregano
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (or chilli flakes)
salt and pepper

2 x 200gr pieces of salmon fillet, skin on, de-boned

Dressing...
1/4 cup tahini
1/2 lemon juiced
1 Tbsp maple syrup
hot water for thinning out

Method...
1. Cook quinoa as per packet instructions.
2. Meanwhile, cook the chickpeas. Heat coconut oil in a non-stick pan. Add chickpeas and cook over medium heat for 1 minute. Add spring onion and spices, toss and cook for another 4 minutes until chickpeas toast and spices are fragrant. Add kale and wilt lightly. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. Transfer to a bowl.
3. Season the salmon skin generously with salt, then add to a greased frypan skin side down. Cook over a high-medium heat for 3-5 minutes until skin is crisp. Use a fish flipper to carefully turn the salmon and cook on the other side for a further 5 minutes or until salmon is cooked as desired.
4. Once salmon is cooked, transfer to a plate to rest and prepare the dressing. Mix the tahini with remaining ingredients in a small bowl. Add hot water a Tbsp at a time until you have a runny, batter-like consistency.
5. Once quinoa is cooked and rested, use a fork to fluff out. Transfer to the bowl with chickpeas. Add the coriander and cabbage and toss to evenly mix. Add the juice of half a lemon and taste. If the salad needs more lemon or a drizzle of coconut oil, do so to suit your preference.
6. Spoon the salad onto a plate, top with rested salmon fillet and drizzle with tahini dressing to serve.

Thursday, 5 January 2017

Tomato Bruschetta



I recently found a couple of rogue tomato plants that had somehow taken root in my garden beds. Now it has to be said that I have tried and failed many times to grow my own fruit, herbs and vegetables,  so I have given up and now only keep hardy succulents that I know I can't kill.

But when I saw these tomato plants growing out of nowhere, I decided to leave them and see how they fared without my grey thumb touching them. So, surprise surprise, I now have two large tomato vines, both baring fruit to the tune of about 30-40 tomatoes. These beauties have thrived on my neglect and I was able to pluck two ripe ones yesterday. WINNING!


In honour of the first fruit I have ever grown from a seedling in my own backyard, I decided to make the most traditional tomato dish ever- Tomato Bruschetta! Bruschetta, meaning 'toasted bread' has no limits it seems, with most restaurants serving all different incarnations of the delicious Italian snack. There is only one true bruschetta in my mind though, and it is nicely grilled bread, with top-quality ripened tomatoes and fresh basil chopped up on top drizzled with olive oil and lashings of salt and pepper. To 'tart' it up a bit this time, I add a little bit of good quality balsamic glaze and some chunks of goats cheese- cos why not!

You will need...
4 thin slices of good quality pane di casa or sourdough
2 nice vine-ripened tomatoes, washed and eye removed (the bit where the stalk is attached)
1 sprig of fresh basil, washed and picked
1 clove garlic
olive oil
salt and pepper
Optional extras- balsamic glaze, finely diced spanish onion, shaved parmesan, crumbled danish feta or goats cheese (I used goats cheese).

Method...
1. Drizzle a little bit of olive oil on both sides of the bread and place on to grill (I do this in a skillet, but you could do it on a char-grill plate of a BBQ, or even just under the grill of your oven)
2. Dice the tomato into even squares, then add to a bowl. Thinly slice the basil, add the the tomato and season with sea salt, ground black pepper and a generous drizzle of olive oil.
3. Peel the garlic clove, and once the bread is nicely toasted, gently scrape the garlic clove over the slice of bread to impart a gentle garlic flavour.
4. Use a spoon to divide the tomato mixture over the grilled bread, drizzle with balsamic if using, and serve.

Even the fur babies wanted some!