Tag Archives: beef

Cold Weather: 0, Greedy Frog: 1! Slow-cooked Beef and Dumplings


I came back from visiting my family in France with, among other goodies, a new, huge, heavy cast-iron pan. I had been coveting one such pan for a very long time, but the price tag meant that I couldn’t afford one; not unless I defaulted on my mortgage payments, that is. My amazing parents, however, decided to buy one for me as an early Christmas present (have I mentioned they are amazing?), and it is fair to say that I have rarely been as excited as I was when I opened the box.

I know some of you might think that I am pretty pathetic, getting all excited over a pan like this, but I don’t care what you think, because I’VE GOT A NEW PAN!!!!


Well, that’s the gloating neatly out of the way now, so let’s talk a bit about the recipe…

This dish is delicious, a mixture of meltingly tender beef, tasty veg and gravy, and light, fluffy dumplings… It is the ultimate antidote to cold, dark evenings. I like to make a big batch of this on a Sunday, and keep some back for the Monday night; I find it incredibly comforting when it starts getting dark on a Monday afternoon, and with the whole working week still ahead of me, to know that there is a lovely warming meal waiting for me at home that just needs re-heating…

This stew will freeze beautifully (without the dumplings), and any leftover sauce works really well with pasta, especially if you cook the pasta in it. Oh, and it is also very cheap to make!

The dumplings recipe is Jane Grigson’s, from “English Food” (one of the first cookbooks I bought after moving to England, I was very intrigued by the notion of a whole book about English food…).

You will need:

For the stew:

1 kg beef shin, diced
3 tbsp olive oil
20g butter
2 onions
3 carrots
2 celery sticks
1 leek
4 cloves garlic
250g chestnut mushrooms
10g dried wild mushrooms (I used chanterelles)
1 handful plain flour
1 tsp dried oregano
25cl red wine
1 tbsp tomato puree
500 ml beef stock
200 ml hot water

For the dumplings:

125g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
Pinch salt
60g shredded suet (vegetable suet is fine)
1 tbsp chopped herbs of your choice (I used thyme)


Rehydrate the dried mushrooms in a bowl of hot, freshly boiled water.

Chop the onions, carrots, celery and leek. Quarter the mushrooms. Crush and peel the garlic.

Season the flour generously with salt, pepper and the oregano. Toss the meat in the flour until evenly covered.

Heat up the olive oil and butter in a large, heavy-based lidded pan. Shake any excess flour off the meat, and add to the pan; turn regularly until brown all over.

Add the onions, garlic, carrots, celery and leek, and cook gently for about 5 minutes, stirring regularly. Add the tomato puree and cook it out, stirring, for 1 minute.

Add the wine, and scrape the bottom of the pan to make sure all the tasty bits are incorporated in the gravy. Bring to the boil, then add the stock, the rehydrated mushrooms with their water, and top up with hot water if needed (the liquid needs to cover the meat almost completely.

Bring to the boil, then turn the heat down to the minimum setting, put the lid on, and leave to simmer gently for about 4 hrs, stirring every so often.

30 min before you are ready to serve, make the dumplings. Mix the flour, salt, baking powder and suet in a bowl. Mix with enough water to form a slightly sticky dough. Flour your hands and form into dumplings; I usually make 6 large ones but you could make up to 12 smaller ones.

Check the seasoning of the beef gravy, and add your dumplings to the pan, making sure there is plently of liquid there as they need to be poached. Put the lid back on and cook for another 10 to 20 min, depending on the size of the dumplings. Serve with hot, buttery mash.



Filed under Mains, Meat dishes

Steak and Mushroom Pie



It is a truth universally acknowledged that as the autumn rain and chilly winds make their appearance, one starts yearning for hearty, warming, comforting dishes.
This pie is one such dish, and it is very easy to prepare. You can make it in a large pie dish, or 6 individual ones. Unless we have guests, I usually make it in individual dishes and freeze four (unglazed) portions for another day (make sure you wrap them well before freezing, then defrost in the fridge for 24h before glazing and baking as below).

You will need (for 1 large pie, or 6 individual ones):

For the pastry:
200 g plain flour
100 g butter
1 egg, lightly beaten, for glazing

For the filling:

Handful dried mushrooms (about 30 g dry weight)
2 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
450 g stewing steak, cubed
3 tbsp flour
250 ml hot beef stock
200 g fresh mushrooms, quartered
2 tbsp dried thyme, or 2 sprigs fresh
2 tsp cornflour


Rehydrate the dried mushrooms in hot, freshly boiled water. Reserve.

Put the flour in a bowl, season generously. Toss the meat in the flour until well covered.

In a large pan, heat up the olive oil. Shake any excess flour off the meat, and add to the pan. Cook for a few minutes until brown on all sides.

Add the onion, then the fresh mushrooms. Drain the rehydrated mushrooms and add to the pan.

Add the stock, thyme and some seasoning. Bring to the boil, then turn the heat down and simmer, covered, for about 1h30.image

Meanwhile, make the pastry. In a large bowl, add the salt and butter to the flour. Work the flour into the butter between your fingertips until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Add enough cold water to bind, knead briefly then form into a ball (you can use a food processor instead if you prefer). Wrap in cling film then chill.

When the filling is ready, preheat the oven to 200 C/ fan 190 C/ gas 6.
Mix the cornflour with a few spoonfuls of cold water, and add to the filling. Stir, then leave to thicken for about a minute. Take off the heat.

Roll out the pastry to about 5 mm thickness (roughly the thickness of a beer mat). Invert your pie dish, or individual dishes, over the pastry and cut pastry lids to shape with a sharp knife. Roll any trimmings into a ball, and freeze for another time.



Transfer the filling to the dish. With a brush, wet the rim of your pie dish(es), and carefully place the prepared pastry on top. Press down all around the edge with a fork to seal.

Bake for about 10 to 15 min for individual pies, 15 to 20 min for a large one, or until nice and golden.


Filed under Bakes, Mains, Meat dishes

Beef and Feta Stuffed Peppers


I was inspired by Eat Already’s Stuffed Sweet Peppers to try my own version of the recipe. I had made stuffed peppers many times before, but never cooked in a sauce.

Instead I would cut the peppers in half, pre-cook under the grill, then fill with cooked rice, or meat and return under the grill for a few minutes.

Then I read through Eat Already’s post and had one of these “how come I’ve never thought of this” moments. I just had to try it!

I changed a few things, and added the feta, simply because I have this compulsion not to follow recipes exactly; but essentially it is still Eat Already’s recipe. So without further ado, and with the recipe’s rightful owner’s kind permission, here it is!

You will need (for 4):

1 onion
1 carrot
2 cloves garlic
3 tsp dried oregano
2 tbsp olive oil
1 bay leaf
2 400g tins of chopped tomatoes
1 litre beef stock, hot
1 small bunch parsley, chopped
500 g minced beef
4 peppers
200 g feta


Finely chop the onion and reserve half for later. Chop the carrot. Crush the garlic.

In a large pan, heat up the olive oil on a medium heat, and gently fry the onion, carrot and garlic. Add 2 tsp of the oregano, cover and leave to cook for 3-4 min to soften.

Add the tomatoes, stock and bay leaf, stir and bring to the boil. Season to taste.

Meanwhile, mix the reserved onion with the minced beef. Add the remaining oregano, salt, pepper, parsley, chopped feta, and mix thoroughly.

Cut the tops off the peppers, and remove all the seeds and membrane. Stuff with the meat mixture, and put the tops back on.

Immerse the peppers in the sauce, bring back to the boil, then simmer for 45 min to 1 hour.

Serve with some of the sauce, with some rice or pasta.

If you have any of the meat mixture left after you have stuffed the peppers, roll it into meat balls, and cook in the sauce alongside the peppers. This could make a wonderful lunch for the following day, with some pasta.


Filed under Mains, Meat dishes

Proper cheeseburgers

Summer is finally here! Time to dust off the barbecue and garden furniture, put some drinks in the fridge and make some ice cubes.

The thing with the British summer though, is that it takes you by surprise. One minute it is pouring down with rain and rather chilly, and the next it is sundress weather. Which is why you need to perfect the art of the “emergency barbecue”. As in, it is 11:00 am, the sun is unexpectedly shining, quick, let’s run to the butcher’s and buy something we can barbecue.

When you are short on prep time, one of the easiest ways to enjoy a barbecue is to make homemade cheeseburgers.

Personally, I prefer a rather simple cheeseburger: a toasted bun, a nice burger, tasty cheese, and maybe a bit of ketchup. That’s it.

I know most people will add tomatoes, lettuce, gherkins, etc. , which is fine, each to their own! The main thing here is good quality beef, the trimmings almost don’t matter.

You will need (for 4 burgers):

500 g beef mince
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 a red onion
1 tbsp chopped parsley
4 good quality bread buns
Thin slices of your choice of cheese (I like Emmental or Maasdam)


Heat up the olive oil in a small frying pan. Chop the onion finely, and cook gently in the oil until soft. Drain on kitchen paper.

In a large bowl, place the mince, onions, parsley and seasoning.image

Mix thoroughly with your hands, then divide into 4 equal portions. Form each portion into a ball, and pat it gently to flatten it between your palms until it is roughly 2 cm thick.image

Put the patties on a plate, cover with cling film then reserve in the fridge while you light the barbecue.

When your barbecue is ready, cook the burgers for about 3 to 4 minutes on each side for medium-rare (this will vary depending on your barbecue and the thickness of the patties). image

Just before the burgers are ready, lay the cheese on top of them and toast the buns.

Assemble the burgers, and top with a bit of ketchup. I like to have a few grilled mushrooms alongside too.image


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Filed under Barbecue, Mains, Meat dishes