I’m planning some exciting new dishes for 2015. And, for us gardeners, the thought of what to grow this year is also at the forefront of our minds. January isn’t the easiest month as the cold weather makes growing fruit and veg challenging, but we’re starting to see forced rhubarb (the first exciting fruit of the season) and Seville oranges for marmalade.
As a nation we’re great at soups and stews. One of my favourite stews is made with shin of beef. I adore this cut of meat.
Cattle are meant to eat grass but in these days of rearing meat for maximum profit, cattle are often fed on grains, corn or soya-based feeds. This is both bad for the poor beasts and for the flavour of the meat. Grass-fed pure-bred Aberdeen Angus beef is something special. I’ve been ordering this from Grierson Organic in Perthshire for a number of years. The difference in flavour is astonishing. I urge you to give it a try.
SMOKED MACKEREL PÂTÉ AND PICKLES
You might prefer to buy a ready-made version (at a hugely inflated price) but this recipe doesn’t take long and tastes so good you will make it time and time again. It’s good for packed lunches, and will help with the January detox as it’s packed full of omega oils. Try it with oatcakes, a dollop of horseradish, or some pickles. Or just with a simple salad, a squeeze of lemon juice and a twist of pepper. Try using peppered mackerel for an additional hit of flavour.
Makes one large tub (enough for several servings)
3 fillets of smoked mackerel
2 tbsp crème fraîche
juice of half a lemon
twist of pepper
250ml cider vinegar
a few spices (star anise, peppercorns)
a handful of vegetables like carrots, cucumber and onion, peeled and cut into nice shapes
1 tsp of good salt
1 Make a pickle by boiling the spices, vinegar, water, sugar and salt together for a minute. Then add the vegetables to this liquor. Remove from the heat and put in a jar with a tight-fitting lid. This can be stored for months.
2 To make the pâté, blitz the mackerel with the crème fraîche in a food processor until smooth. Then add the pepper and lemon to taste.
3 Keep the pâté in a tub in your fridge. It’s perfect with oatcakes and those pickles.
BRAISED SHIN OF ORGANIC ABERDEEN ANGUS BEEF STEW
This dish is one of my favourite things to eat. Rich and almost sticky, with roots as the vegetable component and that glorious scoop of ever-so-buttery mash, it’s pretty much perfect. We sell a lot of this dish at the restaurant and when it’s not on, people request it. Rightly so!
800g shin of organic Aberdeen Angus beef, diced into inch cubes
2 carrots, peeled and roughly diced
2 onions, peeled and roughly diced
2 sticks of celery, peeled and roughly diced
1 bunch of thyme
1 tbsp plain flour
1 bay leaf
1.5 litres of good beef stock
50ml rapeseed oil
good salt and black pepper
1 In a thick-bottomed casserole dish, heat the rapeseed oil. Dust the beef with flour and fry until golden. Set to one side.
2 In the same dish, fry the vegetables until golden, then add the thyme, bay leaf and beef stock. Bring to the boil, stirring occasionally. Then return the beef to the dish and season with salt and pepper.
3 Cover the dish with a lid and place in a moderately hot oven for 2-3 hours and serve with mash, doughballs or under a suet crust.
QUEEN OF PUDDINGS
A well-deserved title and rarely seen on a menu these days, this recipe is a fabulous way to use up leftover cake. I love that phrase, leftover cake. Is there such a thing? But replacing cake crumbs with bread crumbs is equally delicious. It’s also a brilliant way to clear the cupboard of old jam. This proper pudding is best served warm so make it and let it sit for a bit. Try serving this one for friends on a bleak, wintery day.
Makes one pudding to serve four
half a loaf of good bread and/or cake crumbs, 200g in total
zest of 1 lemon
pinch of nutmeg
220g caster sugar
a few knobs of butter
4 eggs, separated
2 tbsp of any jam you like. I like bramble but raspberry is good
350ml double cream
1 Mix the cake and bread crumbs into the milk and cream then add the nutmeg, lemon zest and half the sugar. Give it a good mix then add the egg yolks and mix again. Place into a butter-lined ovenproof dish.
2 Next, dot wee knobs of butter over the top of the mix. Place the dish in a roasting tin half-filled with hot water and bake at 180C/Gas Mark 4 for 40-45 minutes, until just firm to the touch. The deeper the dish, the longer it will take.
3 Allow to cool slightly then whisk in the egg whites until stiff before gradually adding the remaining sugar, a little at a time to make a meringue. Pipe or spoon the meringue in small circles around the edge of the bread pudding (to resemble a crown) and glaze under the grill.
4 Melt the jam in a pot on the stove and then spoon into the centre of the crown of meringue. Serve warm and enjoy.
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