Brazilian Fish Stew – Moqueca

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Brazilian-Fish-Stew_680px_4 (2) 23/04/2017

A traditional Brazilian dish of fish and bell peppers (capsicum) in a delicately flavoured coconut base broth, this stew really is quite unique.

I made this after being inspired by a visit to a Brazilian restaurant where they carved copious amounts of tender meat onto your plate quicker than you could eat it. I was in heaven. While the selection of meat was absolutely beautiful, what stood out for me most was the ‘salad bar’ that was on offer. There was a variety of Brazilian delicacies ranging from lentil salads, herb and garlic roast potatoes, black bean stew, rices, pastas, salsas, olives, garlic mushrooms, fresh fruits and vegetables, and many other things including moqueca. The spices were subtle but flavourful and the fish was welcome change from the heavy going grilled meats. I cooked up a batch for the family the day after and it was a total success.

This is actually quite refreshing rather than rich and heavy. In addition to coconut milk, the broth has in it canned tomatoes, lime juice, paprika and cumin powder. The paprika and cumin flavour is subtle, and to me, the standout is the lime flavour which cuts through the richness of the coconut milk.

The broth is quite refreshing and not too rich, unlike many strong flavoured, rich coconut based curries. I made this just using fish but it is also made as a seafood stew with prawns and calamari.

Ingredients:

Fish:

  • 3-4 salmon fillets, skinned and cut into chunks
  • 1 tbsp lime juice
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • Black pepper
  • 1 tbsp olive oil

Broth:

  • 1½ tbsp olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 small onion, finely diced
  • 1 large red bell pepper, halved and sliced
  • 1 tsp each of cumin and coriander powder
  • 1 tbsp paprika
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper (optional)
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 200ml coconut milk
  • 400g can chopped tomatoes
  • 100ml fish or chicken broth

Finishes:

  • 1 tbsp lime juice
  • 3 tbsp roughly chopped fresh coriander

Method:

  1. For the fish: Combine the fish, lime juice, salt and pepper in a bowl. Cover with cling film and refrigerate for 20 minutes.
  2. For the broth: Heat a large pan over a medium high and add 1½ tbsp olive oil. Add the garlic and onion and cook for 1½ minutes or until the onion is starting to become translucent.
  3. Add the bell peppers and cook for 2 minutes.
  4. Add the remaining broth ingredients. Bring to simmer then turn down to medium.
  5. Add the salmon chunks, stir to coat and simmer gently for 20 minutes or until the sauce thickens and the salmon is tender. Adjust salt and pepper to taste.
  6. Stir through lime juice.
  7. Garnish with coriander and serve with rice.

Slow-Cooked Shredded Beef Ragu

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screenshot_2016-10-17-22-20-21-11 17/10/2016

Slow cooked tender beef that pulls apart in a delicious herby, winey, rich tomato sauce intertwines with buttery cheesy pasta for a proper comfort meal that’s packed with flavour. This recipe makes a huge amount and if you do have any leftovers, they taste even better the next day!

Serves 6

Ingredients:

  • 1 ¾ pounds beef shin, in 2-inch cubes
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 sprigs rosemary, plus 1 tablespoon finely chopped leaves for garnish
  • 2 sprigs sage
  • 1 small red onion, peeled and cut in chunks
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 carrot, peeled and thickly sliced
  • 1 celery stalk, thickly sliced
  • 2 cups red wine
  • 2 400g can peeled whole cherry or plum tomatoes
  • 1 pound pappardelle
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • ½ cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

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Method:

  1. Season beef with salt and pepper to taste. Place a heavy cast iron pan over medium-high heat, and add olive oil. When oil is hot, add beef. Stir until beef is well browned on all sides, about 5 minutes. Add rosemary and sage sprigs, onion, garlic, carrot and celery. Reduce heat to medium-low and sauté until vegetables are softened, about 5 minutes.
  2. Add the wine and continue to simmer until liquid has reduced by half, about 15 minutes. Add tomatoes and their juices. Bring contents of pot to a simmer. Place in an oven preheated to 140C, covered, or on the stove over the lowest heat for 2 to 3 hours.
  3. Using two forks, shred the meat and vegetables. Discard herb stems. Loosely cover pan and return it to low heat to keep warm.
  4. Place a large pot of lightly salted water over high heat to bring to a boil. Add pappardelle to boiling water. As it cooks, scoop out 1/2 cup water and reserve. Cook pasta to taste then drain well. Return pasta to pot and add butter and 1/4 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano; mix gently until butter has melted. Add a little reserved cooking water to loosen.
  5. To serve, lift pasta into each of six shallow bowls. Spoon beef ragù over top. Sprinkle each bowl with a pinch of rosemary, and a spoonful of cheese.

Chicken Paprika

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Screenshot_2016-06-27-20-06-14-1[1] 27/06/2016

A real hearty meal that uses one pan and tastes fantastic. I love cooking dinner in my casserole pan in the oven. All the flavours seem to concentrate and everything cooks evenly into a luxurious dish. This is no exception and incorporates smoky paprika with a sweet tomato and pepper sauce that coats tender chicken pieces.

Serves 3-4

Ingredients:

  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 large chicken breasts
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, grated
  • 1 Tbsp plain flour
  • 1 Tbsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 400g can plum tomatoes
  • 150ml chicken stock
  • 1 red or green pepper, deseeded and sliced
  • Parsley, chopped
  • Salt and fresh ground black pepper
  • Sour cream (optional)
  • Brown rice and steamed greens to serve

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 170C.
  2. Cut each chicken breast into 3 or pieces. Heat the olive oil in a cast iron casserole dish over a medium heat. Brown the chicken pieces, seasoning in the process, then remove them from the pan and set aside.
  3. Add the onions to the pan and gently fry for 8-10 minutes until softened. Add the garlic for a further minute before adding the flour, paprika and cayenne. Stir well to soak up the pan juices then add the can of plum tomatoes. Stir to combine then add the stock and return the chicken to the pan. Stir everything and bring to a simmer. Add the peppers to the casserole then place the lid on and put in the oven for 20-30 minutes or until the chicken has cooked through.
  4. Check the seasoning and add the parsley about 5 minutes before it is ready. Serve with brown rice and steamed greens such as broccoli, beans or asparagus for a wholesome, tasty meal.
  5. If using, add the sour cream to the casserole once you have removed it from the oven and swirl it through the sauce. I didn’t use it in the dish pictured as I didn’t have any but I have tried it in the recipe before and it adds a lovely richness.

Moroccan Lamb Tagine

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Screenshot_2016-04-30-18-04-05-1[1] 02/05/2016

I was bought a traditional clay tagine pot for my birthday last year and have been meaning to use it for ages. I think I used it once as a decorative serving dish for some fruit but apart from that, it has been sat in the corner gathering dust. It wasn’t until a friend came round and pointed out how much she loved tagine that we decided to do a tagine night with a couple of mates. It was a roaring success and the stew was delicious! I will definitely be using it more often.

You don’t need a tagine pot to make a tagine. The funnel lid is a traditional shape that helps the air circulate in a particular way while cooking but you will get very similar results in a casserole dish too.

There is no right and wrong when it comes to tagine recipes either. Just put what you like into it. I’m sure I’ll have North African grandmothers rolling in their graves at that comment as I bet they have sworn by, top secret recipes for the perfect tagine but in my humble opinion, if you like something, stick it in. Feel free to experiment with spices, meat, fruit, vegetables, nuts and herbs. The slow and low cook in the oven will transform whatever you decide on into a luscious, comforting meal.

Ingredients:

  • Olive oil and a knob of butter
  • 1kg lamb leg, deboned and diced
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 3 large garlic cloves, grated
  • 2 tsp each of ground cumin, garam masala
  • 1 tsp each of ground coriander, ground cinnamon, turmeric
  • ½ tsp allspice,
  • 2 tsp harissa paste
  • 1 Tbsp tomato puree
  • 400g tin plum tomatoes
  • 500ml chicken stock
  • 100g prunes
  • 50g pistachios or almonds, shelled
  • Fresh coriander, mint, parsley
  • Salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
  • Cous cous, flatbreads and tzatziki to serve

Method:

  1. Heat a little oil and a knob of butter in a large cast iron pan. When hot, add the lamb in batches and seal on all sides. Remove from the pan and set aside. Add the onion and garlic to the pan and gently sweat for 5 minutes without browning.
  2. Add the dry spices and harissa paste to the onions and allow the oil to warm the spices and release their flavours. Return the meat and resting juices to the pan and stir well. Add the tomato puree and cook for a further 5 minutes on a low heat.
  3. Add the tinned tomatoes, bring to the boil then add the hot stock. Keep stirring until returned to the boil then place in the pan or a tagine if you have one into the oven for 2 hours or until the lamb is really tender. 5 minutes before serving, stir in the prunes and nuts and chopped herbs and remove from the oven.
  4. Serve with any grain, bread and dip you like. I went for the classic herby lemon cous cous with my infamous garlic flatbreads and tzatziki dip.

Steak & Ale Pie

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Screenshot_2016-04-25-21-32-15-1[1] 26/04/2016

An unadulterated British classic! Pie and mash! The beef shin used in this recipe goes meltingly tender during it’s long stint in the oven and the ale and beef stock create a rich, deep flavoured gravy that clings to the smoky bacon and onions to deliver a huge flavour punch. Topped with buttery, crisp pastry, this is a pie to get you back on track in life and assure you everything will be alright – seriously.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 900g stewing beef, trimmed and cut into 3cm cubes
  • Flaked sea salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2-3 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 3 long shallots, quartered
  • 125g smoked streaky bacon rashers, cut into 1cm strips
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp roughly chopped thyme leaves
  • 330ml stout
  • 400ml beef stock
  • 2 tbsp cornflour, blended with 2 tbsp water to make a smooth paste
  • ½ puff pastry block

METHOD:

  1.  Season the beef cubes with salt and black pepper. Heat a tablespoon of oil in a large flameproof casserole dish and fry the meat over a high heat. Do this in several batches so you don’t overcrowd the pan, transferring each batch of meat to a plate as it is browned. Set aside.
  2.  Add another tablespoon of oil to the casserole dish and cook the shallots for four to five minutes, then add the bacon and fry until slightly browned. Add the garlic and fry for another 30 seconds, then tip the meat into the casserole dish and add the herbs. Preheat the oven to 180C/fan 160C.
  3. Pour the stout into the pan and bring it to the boil, stirring to lift any sticky bits from the bottom of the pan. Add the stock. Put a lid on the casserole dish and place it in the oven for two hours, or until the beef is tender and the sauce has reduced.
  4.  Remove the casserole dish from the oven and skim off any surface fat. Taste the sauce and add seasoning if necessary, then stir in the cornflour paste.
  5.  Put the casserole dish on the hob and simmer the mixture for one to two minutes, stirring, until thickened. Transfer to a pie dish and leave to cool.
  6. Roll out the puff pastry to the size of your pie dish and lay it over the filling. Make a small hole in the centre for the steam to escape while cooking. Brush the pastry with a little milk.
  7. When ready, bake the pie in the oven for 30 minutes at 200C/fan 180C until the pastry is golden brown and the pie is bubbling hot.

Steak & Ale Stew

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IMG_20141111_183644[1] 20/11/2014

I have included ideas to use the steak & ale base as a pie or a stew. This is a really fulfilling base to experiment with as you wish.

Ingredients:

  • 2-3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 pound beef shin, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 2-4 rashers smoky bacon, cut into chunks
  • 2-3 onions, chopped coarsely
  • Salt to taste
  • Fresh ground black pepper to taste
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 tablespoon tomato purée
  • 1 bottle of your favourite ale
  • 250ml beef stock
  • A dash of Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary

Directions:

  1. Dredge the pieces of beef in the flour and set aside.
  2. Add 2 tablespoons of oil to a large cast iron pot set over a medium heat. Once hot, add the beef in batches and cook, browning it on all sides. This should take several minutes.
  3. Remove the beef from the pot and set aside. Return the pan to the hot stove top.
  4. Add about 1/4 cup water to the pan (enough to cover the bottom), and scrape up the browned bits left from cooking the beef. Transfer the liquid/mixture from the pan to a bowl, and set it aside.
  5. Return the pan to the hot stove top. Add 1 tablespoon of oil, and when hot, add the bacon chunks to the pan, cook until brown and sizzling then set aside with the beef. Add the onions to the pan and cook, stirring for about 3 minutes. Add the salt, black pepper, and garlic, and cook for another minute.
  6. Add the tomato paste to the mixture and cook, stirring, for about 30 seconds. Add the beer, broth, beef, the reserved liquid scraped up from the pan, Worcestershire sauce, bay leaves, thyme and rosemary.
  7. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce heat to simmer and place in the preheated oven for 90-120 minutes, or until the beef is tender.

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Your base is now ready to use as a beautiful pie filling or hearty stew with dumplings.

For a pie:

You could make your own shortcrust or puff pastry lid or even use readymade. Why not try adding blue cheese into the dough for an extra kick of savoury flavour? Try adding peas, carrots and mushrooms to the filling too.

Once the filling is cool, place it into a pie dish and cover with your chosen pastry. Coat the rim of the pie dish with an egg wash to help the pastry stick, before finally placing the lid on the dish.

Once you have placed the lid on the dish, crimp the edges with your thumbs and fingers to form a seal and stop the pastry shrinking during cooking.

Trim the excess pastry from the edge of the dish and coat the top of the pie in egg wash.

Finally cut a cross mark in the centre of the lid of the pie with a knife to allow steam to escape through during the cooking process.  This should help avoid a soggy pastry.

Bake the pie in the oven for about 30-40 minutes at 200C

For a stew:

For a stew, add root vegetables such parsnips, swede and carrot. To make dumplings, mix 2oz suet with 4oz self raising flour in a mixing bowl. Add a pinch of salt and herbs of your choice then combine the mix with approximately 5 tablespoons of water or just enough to form a soft but not sticky dough. Divide the dough into 8 balls then when the stew is nearly ready and the beef is tender, place the balls on top of the simmering stew, cover tightly with the lid and allow to cook for a further 20 minutes.

By cooking in the oven, nothing sticks to the bottom of the pan or burns and the sauce bubbles into a velvety coating for the meat and vegetables.