Chris's Weblog – City Chickens

Roast Marinated Topside of Beef

After Christmas I picked up a bargain joint of beef from Lidl and it has been sitting in the freezer until now. It’s Sean’s birthday on Monday and I thought they may just visit on Sunday so I have put the beef to marinate ready to cook a roast.

A marinade is a mixture of acid, oil, herb and spice. It’s designed to impart flavor and tenderise meat. There is an endless list of combinations that can be the difference between dry meat and a succulent meat.

The acid – Vinegar, acidic fruit juices like lemon or wine are the acidic components in the marinade that tenderise meats. They also play an important part in imparting flavor. An example of a high acid wine is Champagne or a zesty white wine. Use low acid marinades when marinating overnight. Go with a low acid wine. Too much time on acid can turn the meat from tender to mushy.

The fat – Apart from extra virgin olive oil and butter, there many other kinds of oils to consider such as sesame oil, peanut oil, grapeseed oil, etc. Each type of oil has a different flavor and smoke point which is something you’ll want to consider.

Herbs – The herbs and aromatic vegetables will impart the floral, vegetal, earthy and even fruity characteristics into your meat. Zest is the shaved skin of an orange, lemon or lime and an excellent way to add flavours.

The spice – Spices add heat and aromas and enhance flavours. Salt and pepper will always be your base but there are many other choices to throw into the mix. Many components in spices such as capsaicin in pepper and  vanilla are more soluble in fat or alcohol than in water. Since meat is up to 75% water using oil and alcohol in your marinades helps to better dissolve the spices and integrate them into the meat.

  • Acid – 1 cup wine
  • Fat – ½ cup oil
  • Herbs – 1 tablespoon
  • Spice – 2 tablespoons of salt

Your acid plus your oil should be enough to immerse the meat easily in a sealed container. It depends on how big the meat is but you want the final result to equal about 1 cup with half as much oil as acid. If you are planning on adding vinegar, lemon juice or Worcestershire sauce as well, you will only need ¼ of a cup. With something more pungent like Dijon mustard or overly-sweet like honey, then only 2 tablespoons are required. Whisk the acid, oil, dry herbs and spices in a  glass bowl until well integrated and the salt is fully dissolved. Gently add the fresh herbs last. If you need to increase volume to completely submerge your meat add it in the wine. Leave to marinate from 2 hours to overnight depending on the size of the meat.

When ready to roast allow the meat to approach room temperature. Whatever your method of preparation, the meat should now be thoroughly tenderised and well-flavored. I melt a little beef dripping in my meat dish and then add a chopped onion, celery, parsnips and carrot into the tin placing the beef on top. Spread mustard over the meat, I use the cheap Sainsbury’s basic for this job, then cover the whole tin with foil sealing the edges. Cook for and hour per kilogram. Today my joint is 2.5kg so I am cooking at 180 for 90 minutes before getting it out and basting before replacing in the oven to brown.

I shall serve with green vegetables, roast potatoes, boiled potatoes and mash.  The gravy is amazing made with the juices from the meat dish.

 

Kalms – Herbal Medicine for PTSD and Insomnnia

Life, for the majority of us, is littered with tragedies and mine is no exception. Like most I have tried to count my blessings and carry on. However I have been persuaded  to get some help in the form of Kalms.
  • Kalms is a traditional herbal medicinal product used for the  relief of symptoms of stress, mild anxiety,  irritability and sleep disturbances.
  • Kalms Lavender One-A-Day Capsules is a traditional herbal medicine used for the temporary relief of  mild anxiety, stress and nervousness.
  • Kalms Night and Kalms  One-a-Night are traditional herbal medicinal products used for the temporary relief of sleep disturbances.
All contain Valerian Root, Gentian and Hops.

Valerian

Valerian is a perennial flowering plant, with heads of sweetly scented pink or white flowers that bloom in the summer. Its flower extracts were used as a perfume in the 16th century. Valerian has soothing, calming properties which counteracts anxiety and has been used traditionally to promote sleep. Valerian, also known as Valeriana officinalis, is a flowering plant native to Europe and Asia. The root of the plant has long been used in herbal medicine for a variety of conditions such as sleeping difficulties, digestive complaints, anxiety and headaches.

Gentian

Gentian, one of the bitter herbs, has been used by herbalists for over two thousand years to help stimulate liver function. It was named as a tribute to Gentius, an Illyrian king who was believed to have discovered that the herb had healing properties. Gentian root herb comes from the yellow gentian plant, Gentiana lutea. This European native produces wrinkled, light to dark brown roots commonly used to make health supplements.

Hop

The hop first attracted attention as a medicinal herb in early Egypt.  It was later used in Europe to treat liver disease and general digestive complaints. Hops have a long history of use in folk medicine where they have been used to treat a variety of complaints. For example, hops are thought to have a sedative action and have been traditionally used in hop pillows for the relief of insomnia. Also, hops have been used as herbal antibiotics and were incorporated into wound salves and anti-inflammatory compresses. Hops also have a long-standing reputation for their ability to affect women’s hormonal balance, being used in hop baths to treat menstrual disturbances. The list continues, with hops being reputed to alleviate migraines, earache, bed-wetting, leprosy, travel sickness, digestive problems, kidney stones and coughing. With so many cures ascribed to one plant, it is easy to see how many viewed them as old wives tales. However, over the last few years there has been a major change in attitudes. New technologies have been developed which allow the rapid and relatively inexpensive testing of chemicals both synthetic and natural as cures for chronic diseases. As a result, pharmaceutical researchers have taken an increased interest in herbal remedies in their hunt for new medicines.

Brussel Sprouts

Brussel Sprouts are a good source of Thiamine, Riboflavin, Iron, Magnesium, Phosphorus and Copper, and a very good source of Dietary Fibre, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin K, Vitamin B6, Folate, Potassium and Manganese.

Today we planted up the new brassica cage with twenty Brussel Sprout plants and fifteen Cauliflowers. We gave them a feed of blood fish and bone and circled them with lime and slug pellets. I tidied up the salad tent and sowed three rows of spring onion and a row of salad leaf. I also sowed a largish pot with coriander seeds. Apart from being a useful herb they look and smell good.

As the weather has been dry for days on end we gave everything a good water too.

Herb Rosemary

rosemaryI am making another attempt at growing the herb Rosemary. I have put the last of my seeds in a seven inch pot of moist compost and covered it with cling film. I actually bought a plant earlier this Spring and have managed to lose it already so am hoping to replace it and get a few more plants as well

This herb’s powerful fragrance goes well with lamb and chicken, as well as tomato soup, stews and fresh cooked peas. Sow the seeds from late winter to early summer in seed compost. Do not cover the seed with compost. Make sure that the compost is moist but not wet and seal in a polythene bag until after germination which usually takes 12-40 days at 16C