Chris's Weblog – City Chickens

Tag Archive: Recipe

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.

 

Angel Cake

When I was about ten years old I went to a birthday party with my Sister and my Mother. The little girl whose party it was has long ago disappeared from my memory but I have an unforgettably vivid memory of her birthday cake. It must have been the first time that I had seen or eaten an angel cake. Pure white cake covered in pure white icing. Apart from Mr Kipling’s White Frosted Fancies, a poor substitute, which always appear in the shops in the month before Christmas, I have never eaten this angelic delight since and so set about finding a good recipe. I am determined to have a try with this recipe and cover it with white icing and desiccated coconut.

Angel cake is a white sponge cake made only with stiffly beaten egg whites and no butter. Apparently, the first recipe in a cookbook for a white sponge cake is in Lettice Bryan’s The Kentucky Housewife of 1839.

 

 

 

Ingredients

  • 4½oz plain flour
  • 10½oz caster sugar
  • 10 large free-range egg whites
  • 2 large lemon grated zest only
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp cream of tartar
  • ½ tsp salt

Method

  • Preheat the oven to 180 and arrange an oven shelf in the bottom third of the oven.
  • Sift the flour and 3½oz of caster sugar together in a bowl and set aside.
  • Whisk the egg whites in a large bowl on a high speed for one minute until frothy.
  • Add lemon zest, lemon juice, cream of tartar and salt and continue whisking for 2-3 minutes, or until soft peaks form when the whisk is removed from the bowl.
  • Increase the speed and add the remaining 7oz of caster sugar, one tablespoon at a time to form firm, but not stiff peaks.
  • Add a third of the flour mixture and fold gently to combine. Repeat with the remaining flour mixture folding gently to keep as much air in the mixture as possible.
  • Do not be tempted to grease the tin as it will prevent the cake from rising properly
  • Transfer the batter to a 10in angel cake pan. Gently run a knife through the centre of the batter to remove any pockets of air. Cook for 45-50 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.
  • Remove from the oven and immediately turn upside down onto the tin’s cooling legs. Leave to cool for at least one hour.
  • Leave to cool on a wire rack.

Quick and Simple Apple Pie

After all the rich food of Christmas I have made an apple pie for after dinner today. My apple pie could be called boring but I prefer to call it quick, simple and satisfying. Ever since the first time I used Sainsbury’s short crust pastry block I haven’t gone to the trouble of making my own pastry from scratch. It is my opinion that it cant be beaten. I usually buy the pastry when it is selling for £1 and put some in the freezer. Move to the fridge the night before you want to use it then leave at room temperature for a couple of hours.

I always use English Bramley Apples and just at the moment they are plentiful and good. I do have my own tree in the garden and have enjoyed the few apples that I have been able to pick from the garden. I like to soften the apples in a saucepan with lots of sugar and lemon juice. Always taste a little of the filling to be sure that its perfect.  I find two large Bramley’s is enough for my pie plate. I cut the pastry block in half and after buttering the plate I roll the pastry out quite thinly and make the base, trimming around the edges. I then  put the cooled filling onto the base and brush a little water around the edges to get a good seal when placing the pastry lid on. Decorate as you like either with just a pinched edging and a good sprinkle of sugar or brush with beaten egg to taste. Serve with cream, ice cream or custard.

 

Peppered Steak in Red Wine


Ingredients

1 steak per person

4 heaped teaspoons of whole or crushed black peppercorns

4 tablespoons of olive oil

crushed garlic

300ml of red wine

 Method
For best results prepare your steak early and leave to marinate. Coarsely crush the peppercorns with a pestle and mortar.  Take a shallow dish large enough to hold your steaks comfortably side by side and pour 1 tablespoon of olive oil mixed with half a clove of crushed garlic into the dish. Coat each steak evenly on both sides with crushed peppercorns, pressing them in firmly. Lay the steaks in the dish and spoon the other tablespoon of oil and the rest of the garlic over them. Cover with Clingfilm and leave them on one side for several hours, turning them over once.
To cook the steaks use a thick based frying pan. Place it over a very high heat and let it preheat the hotter the better. Sear the steaks quickly on both sides for about a minute each side. Then lower the heat and cook them how you want them. 1 minute before the end of the cooking time pour in the wine and let it bubble and reduce down to a syrupy consistency to about one third of its original volume. This whole process will be very quick. Sprinkle with salt and serve the steaks as quickly as possible with the wine sauce poured over. Serve with chipped or sautéed potatoes and green salad, beans or peas.

Saucepan Boiled Fruit Cake

This recipe used to be a family favourite when the kids were all young. It’s a soft, moist fruit cake that can easily be adapted to become a celebration cake with the addition of treacle, alcohol, cherries etc. Another plus is that it does keep well if wrapped in foil or cling film.  I have the inclination to give it a go again.

Ingredients:

  • 12oz of dried fruit
  • 4oz margarine or butter
  • 1/4 pint of water
  • 4oz caster, granulated or brown sugar
  • 8oz self raising flour
  • tsp baking powder
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp mixed spice if you like it

Method:

Add the water, sugar, fruit and fat to a saucepan and bring to the boil stirring to keep from sticking. As soon as the mixture reaches boiling point turn down to a simmer and cook for about 20 minutes. At this point the mixture will be evenly mixed and the fruit plump and juicy. Remove from the heat and leave to cool. Stir occasionally to stop skin forming on top or cover with cling film or greaseproof paper. When cool gradually add the beaten eggs, flour and baking powder, folding in and making sure the ingredients are evenly distributed. Bake in the centre of the oven for about an hour and a half. It does help to line the cake tin with greaseproof paper or as I do, wipe the tin round with margarine and shake flour so that the inside is coated evenly. At this point you could sprinkle with granulated sugar, decorate with almond slices or put a few candied peel slices on top. This cake also takes well to decorating with icing. All in all, a good all round stand by. My sort of cake.

Pumpkin Soup

Well, I’m told that Sainsbury’s are selling off the pumpkins left over from the Halloween mayhem. Laura is hoping to bring us back a bargain for 10p. I shall cut up the flesh and cook in a little water until soft then use my blender to make a puree. Add a chicken stock cube dissolved in boiling water and season to taste, Pumpkin is very bland so any type of flavouring could be added, even curry powder, but I prefer it as it comes with a shake of black pepper on top and plenty of crusty bread. I have added a potato and a stick of celery before when cooking the pumpkin flesh, it just depends on what I have in the fridge at the time. The Delia Soup Collection advocates roasting the chunks of pumpkin in the oven first. I haven’t tried that yet but may do one day.

Recipe:

I large pumpkin deseeded and peeled

Chop up the flesh, rinse and put into a saucepan with a little water

If preferred add a potato, carrot and chopped celery at this point

Add a little salt

Simmer gently until soft

Drain and mash or blend to make a puree

Dissolve a chicken or vegetable stock cube in boiling water

Gently add the liquid to the blended pumpkin stirring until you have a creamy consistency

Serve hot with a chopped chives or parsley garnish

Sprinkle with black pepper and serve with crusty bread

 

Pear and Lemon Jam

This was my first attempt at Pear Jam. Its a cobbled together version of the recipe I do for all my jams. I used two pound of pears which had been peeled, cored and cut up into chunks; I large lemon;  one pound of preserving sugar and some water. I put the pears into a pan with a little water and the juice and zest of the lemon. I cooked the pears until they were soft. Then I added the preserving sugar and brought to the boil until the mixture reached setting point. I am now waiting for the verdict from the family. I think that next time I may add a little powdered ginger when cooking the pears.

 

Plum Jam

This morning I made three jars of jam from some of the fruit collected from my Victoria Plum Tree bought from Lidl. They are really tasty straight from the tree but lovely made into jam so that we can have the taste right through the winter too.

I usually cook large stoned fruit quite well in a little water and lemon juice then when the stones are floating on the top I put the whole lot through a seive and combine it with a little preserving sugar. There is pectin in the stones so no need to add more. Stir the fruit pulp and the sugar until the sugar is melted in then turn on the heat and bring the mixture to a boil. Keep stirring until the setting point is reached, not long with plums, and then pour into your jars using a funnel.

Madeira Cake

Today I made one of my favourite cake recipes. Its a variation on a classic Madeira Cake. All that is needed is three eggs one part soft butter, one part sugar and one part self raising flour and the batter can be adapted to the size of your baking tins. I use a smallish loaf tin and the following recipe:-

  • 150gms sugar
  • 150gms soft butter
  • 150gms self raising flour
  • three large eggs
  • level tsp of baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • One medium lemon

Beat the butter and sugar until light and creamy. Blend the salt into the flour. Add one third of the flour and one egg and fold in then beat the mixture. Add the next third of the flour and the second egg and mix in as before. Add the baking powder to the last third of the flour, add it to the mixture along with the third egg, and some of the zest and the juice of the lemon. Beat the mixture until of a soft dropping consistency then pour into your baking tin. I sometimes grate some lemon zest over the mix before putting it in the oven. Cook in the middle of the oven on 180 for about 35-40 mins. If your Cake tin is bigger you may adapt the measurements accordingly. I have also used a clementine for a change and golden syrup on another occassion. It is a very useful and reliable recipe.

Butternut Squash Soup

We have loads of jobs to do in the garden but rain has stopped play today. We have had torrential rain since the early hours of the morning so couldn’t carry on outside. We have come indoors and I am making Butternut Squash Soup.

  • One medium sized Butternut Squash
  • One small onion
  • One potato
  • One/Two chicken stock cube
  • Seasoning to taste

Cut the butternut squash length ways and scoop out the seeds and the stringy flesh. Peel and cube. Cook with a little water until soft and put on one side. Cook the potato and onion until soft. Combine them all and mash to a smooth pulp. Add the stock cube disolved into a pint of water to the butternut, potato and onion. Season to taste and cook on on low heat stirring all the time or even put into a slow cooker on medium heat until you are ready to serve. Serve with crusty bread for a warming treat. I have seen recipes that add carrots, apple, orange or even curry but we like it simple.