Tag Archives: beef

Wellingtons. Or wellies as I like to call them

One of my favourite dishes to make for a small dinner party is beef wellington.  I have made it very successfully in the past using our farm venison, but this time I had been given a gift of a magnificent beef fillet, so the decision was made for me.

I am also VERY fond of wellington squares.  One of my fellow Ballymaloe teachers makes superb ones that, quite frankly she doesn’t make enough… They remind me of my childhood favourite chocolate bar, the Twix. So I decided to recreate a home baked Twix as a dessert for the beef wellington. But that’s for another post.

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Beef and Spinach Curry

When you hear the word curry, you immediately think of HOT.  And if truth be told, that is a real injustice to curry recipes all over the world.  My Dad never eats curry, (a bad experience in school I believe).  Because of that we never ate curry at home.  It really only when I went to Ballymaloe that the repertoire of curry opened it’s doors to my tastebuds.  Don’t get me wrong- I’m not a lover of HOT flavours, but I LOVE the fragrance and aromas that the perfect mix of spices conjure up.

The trick for me is to taste the chillis first before using.  A general rule of thumb is

The Smaller the Chilli- the hotter the flavour

The hottest chilli in the world is reported to be the Carolina Reaper.  I wouldn’t even like to chop it…

Beef & Spinach Curry
On that note, be always super vigilant when slicing and dicing chillies, whatever their temperature, no rubbing of the nose or eyes or the like……..

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Beef Rendang- get it while it’s HOT

I had a guest over for dinner the other night (my nephew!) and asked him what he would like to eat, I said I would cook him anything! He went with Beef Rendang. Secretly delighted I rooted out my recipe, loosely based on Rory O’Connells one, which, is divine, but just too hot for me. Mind you -this was lip numbingly hot too.

Although the ingredients are mostly store cupboard, the quality of the meat is important here.  And as the cooking time is quite long I suggest cutting the beef into larger pieces so they don’t simply disintegrate. I’m not a fan of the mint either, so I leave that out too. Rendang is traditionally a Malaysian spicy meat dish, that is served at important social occasions.  It’s cooked down slowly until a sticky sauce is left around the meat, and is dryer than most curries, but I prefer a little more sauce.

My Beef Rendang


1.5kg of good quality stewing beef

5 red chillies

2 red onions

3 cloves of garlic

1 teaspoon of turmeric

1 bay leaf

3 tins of coconut milk

Natural yogurt, if required

Rice, to serve


Cut up the beef into pieces approximately 4cm square.  Add to a large heavy based saucepan with the turmeric and the bay leaf.

In a food processor chop the de-stalked chillies (keep the seeds in), peeled and quartered onions, and peeled cloves, until well diced.

Add this to the pan with tins of coconut milk.  I like to use organic coconut milk, but if unavailable use the best quality you can afford.

Stir to combine, at this stage it looks really nasty!

Bring to the boil, stirring occasionally then reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered for about 2 hours.  Towards the end it will look like the sauce has split.  Stir quite frequently at this stage to avoid it burning on the hob.

Taste the sauce, if it is too hot I add a good couple of spoons of natural yogurt.  Completely un authentic I know, but sure look it!

Serve on a bed of rice- with lots of water available.




Jacobs Ladder- Short Rib Recipe

Beef short ribs are the equivalent of pork ribs. Although meatier and longer- despite their alternative name of short ribs.  The meat on these ribs is intercostal muscle which essentially means they will be full of flavour as the muscles move. And despite much trying I have no idea where the name Jacobs ladder came from.

Jacobs Ladder

Jacobs Ladder

I had never even HEARD of the cut (I was listening Darina!) until I was chatting to my good friend Sue at a dinner recently.  She had attended a pop up dinner at the West Waterford Food Festival and it had been served as the main course.  I just love slow cooked food.  There’s a kind of comfort in coming into a kitchen where the oven has been on for a long time and the mixture of flavours fills the room. (Unless it’s burnt- and that’s just nasty). The pop up was sponsored by Dawn Meats, so that was my first port of call for the cut.

I get a lot of my meat there.  They shop is easy to access, they are very accommodating with requests, and have a loyalty card system. You feel better too, I think, from supporting farmers in your area.

Jacobs Ladder- Short Rib Recipe


3 tablespoons of olive oil

Jacob’s Ladder (short rib) beef pieces

200gof streaky bacon, cut into strips (lardons)

400g of shallots, peeled

3 garlic cloves finely chopped

Some fresh herbs, I like to use thyme

300ml good red wine

400g tinned tomatoes

600ml stock

50g butter

400g sliced mushrooms

2 tablespoons of chopped parsley to garnish.


For the braised beef preheat the oven to 160oC

Heat a large lidded casserole pot and add the oil.  Once hot, add the beef pieces, and fry all over to brown them. Remove from the pan and set aside.

Add the bacon and cook until crisp. Add the whole baby shallots and stir until they have colour on them.

Add the garlic, thyme and cook for five more minutes.

Put all the beef back into the pan and add the red wine and heat until the volume of liquid has reduced by half.  Add the tomatoes and stock and then cook in the preheated oven with the lid on for 2-3 hours, or until the meat is cooked to your liking.

Serve with some mashed or baby new potatoes.

Jacob's Ladder

Beef Stroganoff- my super quick recipe

The first recorded Beef Stroganoff recipe originated in 1871, in Russia, in a cookbook entitled “A Gift to Young Housewives“.  It has evolved over the years and my recipe uses finely sliced beef, but the original would have used cubes instead. Count Pavel Stroganoff’ was unlikely to have invented it, merely used it when entertaining, and the name stuck.  Very fashionable in the 80’s, I like it as an alternate to stir fry, when a slightly warmer and creamier sauce is looked for.

Beef Stroganoff

Getting the ingredients together sometimes takes longer than the cooking


Beef Stroganoff- my way


400g beef steak

25g butter

1 tablespoon of olive oil

300g mixed type mushrooms

1 onion, finely chopped

25g plain flour

250ml beef stock

50ml red wine

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

1 tablespoon of tomato purée

3 tablespoon of crème fraîche

Fresh herbs, finely chopped


Slice the steak as thinly as you can, then season. In a large, frying pan, melt half the butter with half the oil.  Increase the heat, then quickly sear the meat in batches until browned, a lovely caramel colour on both sides.  Remove the meat from the pan and set aside.  Repeat with the mushrooms, then set aside with the beef. Add the remaining butter and oil to the pan and soften the finely chopped onion for a few mins.  Stir in the flour for about 1 minute, then gradually stir in the stock and wine.

Simmer for about 7 minutes until thickened, then stir in the mustard, purée, crème fraîche and seasoning.  Bubble again for 5 minute more, then return the beef and mushrooms to the pan.  This sauce has a gorgeously rich deep velvety flavour, that begs to be mopped up with some bread at the end, so don’t be shy in serving some. Traditionally I serve this with some creamy mash, rice or some pasta, but you decide whatever you fancy.  

Beef Stroganoff

Jen’s Fast and Tasty Cannelloni Recipe

I’m going through a serious faze of using fresh pasta. And to be honest, both dried and fresh have their place.  But when himself brought me home some fresh “lasagne” sheets, I immediately thought of cannelloni.  Although it sounds fiddly at first, it’s very impressive to eat and doesn’t take as long as you would imagine.

Jen’s Fast and Tasty Cannelloni


500g good quality minced beef

1 tin of tomatoes

1 onion, finely diced

1 carrot, peeled and finely diced

2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced

250ml Chicken Stock

1 tablespoon of tomato puree

½ teaspoon sugar

12 fresh pasta sheets

50g butter

50g plain flour

300ml of full fat milk

250g grated cheddar

50g pecorino

250g ricotta

To serve:

Green Salad

extra virgin olive oil

balsamic vinegar


Preheat the oven to 180oC.  Sweat the onion, carrot and garlic in a pan with a little olive oil for approximately 10 minutes on a low heat.  You are not looking for any colour, just a gentle sweat.  Add the minced beef and season well.  Cook this uncovered for 10 minutes until the meat is well browned.  Add the tinned tomatoes, 250 ml of stock, puree and sugar.  Let this simmer away gently for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally so it doesn’t stick.


It’s best to mince your own beef if you can.

Meanwhile make the cheese sauce; Melt the butter, stir in the flour, and cook this for about 2 minutes, stirring constantly.  Add the milk slowly, whisking it into the flour until you have a smooth consistency.  Bring to the boil, constantly stirring.  Take the pan off the heat and add the grated cheddar cheese. Lay out the fresh pasta sheets on a clean work surface. Spread a spoon of the ricotta over the sheet. Then Spoon some of the beef filling along the long edge of the pasta sheet. Roll it into a cylinder shape and place the cannelloni into the greased ovenproof dish. Repeat the process until all of the pasta sheets have been used.   Cannelloni




Scatter over the remaining mince sauce over.  Spoon the cheese sauce over the top and bake for 20 minutes, or until golden-brown on top and cooked through.

Beef Cannelloni

Beef Cannelloni

Scatter pecorino on the cannelloni and serve with a crisp green salad dressed with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.




Cheat’s Beef Wellington

I love Beef Wellington.  I mean REALLY love it.  Mind you I like anything wrapped in pastry.

Beef Wellington doesn’t seem to have any connection to the Duke of Wellington.  It’s suggested that it is simply a “re-patriotion” of the well established filet de bœuf en croûte.  In fact the first written reference to Beef Wellington comes from The Los Angeles Times,who published a recipe for “fillet of beef, a la Wellington” in 1903. The Oxford English Dictionary pinpoints a 1939 guide to eating out in New York as the first reliable reference: Tenderloin of Beef Wellington.  In actual fact Theodora Fitzgibbon, the first lady of Irish Cooking, thought the dish originated as Steig Wellington in Ireland, as the Iron Duke was born here.

In a restaurant if you order this dish, you can expect fillet of beef, lathered in a mushoom duxelle or fois gras coating, and wrapped tightly in puff pastry.  This is normally served with a madeira sauce.

Mine isn’t quite the same.  Although with lots of time, it is made from scratch in totality.  But on this occasion, it was really kind of thrown together.

Nigel had got some flank beef, so I used this instead of fillet.  Yes it was going to be a little tougher, so I marinaded it overnight in lots of red wine and crushed garlic.  With a bay leaf thrown in for good measure.


Flank of Beef


The next day I “Roll” the flank, secure with kitchen twine, and brown well on a really hot buttered pan.  This is then wrapped straight away in clingfilm, tightly.  This helps with the shape, and to keep all the goodness in the beef.  Obviously, if you are using fillet of beef (or venison etc) you don’t need to secure it with string, as it is already in the bsic shape you want.  I would, however, still sear and wrap in cling film.  This can now be left until you are ready to prepare the dish.

Beef Flank- seared and rolled

After this it was simply a matter of blitzing the mushrooms and cooking them in a hot pan with lots of olive oil until they were “Dry”.


Mushroom Duxelle

Then, using shop bought puff pastry (I find the Lidl one excellent),  I lay out the pastry, cover this with slices of proscuito (to keep in the moisture).  Spread the duxelle over this.  Then I unwrap the rested beef (snipping off the string, while trying as best as possible to keep it’s shape).  And lay this on top.  All this is wrapped up, and brushed with egg wash. I cook this for 45 mins in a hot oven, for a medium Beef Wellington. If it was just for family, I’d cook it for less.  The most important thing is to leave it rest.  

Beef Wellington

The Finished Beef Wellington

Best served with a rich dark gravy, this dish needs nothing else except maybe some steamed greens.  Delicious.


Italian- Malaysian- Traditional- A true Fusion meal!

I recently had some friends and family for dinner, and have been itching to re-make the Beef Rendang we made in Ballymaloe.  I had made some gorgeous white sourdough at the weekend, and was planning to start with some Bruschetta.

Miscellaneous Brushetta

Miscellaneous Brushetta

One of the unexpected guests was Italian- so I was kind of glad they had been hoovered up before he arrived!

Cheese- Tete du moine and parmigiana

Cheese- Tete du moine and parmigiana

I made three varieties, Tete de Moine, with raisins and honey,

Prosciutto and Parmigiana

and Tomato, Mozzarella and basil.

Beef Rendang Prep

Beef Rendang Prep

Then the Beef with Rice and green salad, as it got a bit frantic, there are no pics of the finished beef, but after slow cooking in the coconut milk for 3 hours, it was ambrosial.

And then another Italian course- a limoncello ice cream to clean the palate,

Limoncello Ice Cream, excited to use our own limoncello

Limoncello Ice Cream, excited to use our own limoncello

Limoncello Ice cream- a little runny!

Limoncello Ice cream- a little runny!

and to finish a traditional raspberry trifle with a twist!

There turned out to be more guests then I anticipated, but it was great fun, and everybody did get fed! As always there was lots of dessert.

Fresh Raspberry Trifle

Fresh Raspberry Trifle





Slowly, slowly

James Martin’s “Slow” is full of beautiful pictures and ideas.  The concept is that all the recipes take over an hour to cook, leaving you time to get on with other things while your oven does the work.  I have a number of James Martin cookbooks, and have always found them to be quite complicated.  This one seems a little different.  I don’t have a slow cooker myself, but a friend recent;y got one as a present, and I wanted to try out a few recipes that I thought she might use in it.

Beef stew is a household staple for most, so this is the recipe I thought I would try first.

Beef Stew with Dumplings

Beef Stew with Dumplings

The stew ingredients are similar to other stews I’ve done, and the method easy to follow.  I chopped all the veg first to have them ready to go.  The recipe calls for beef dripping, which I didn’t have so I used butter with a little drop of oil to reduce the possibility of burning.

Veg ready for the stew

Veg ready for the stew

Then I browned the floured and seasoned beef pieces.

Well Seasoned Beef Pieces

Well Seasoned Beef Pieces

I have learnt the best way to brown meat is to stay strong and leave it alone, no faffing or constant stirring.  This is then removed and the veg added.  This is where it has differed from some other recipes.  At this stage he wants you to gently sweat the vegetables.  Then re-add the meat, and increase the heat as you add the wine.  There was not a lot of wine in the ingredients, so it really got swallowed up straight away.  I added the stock (not my own unfortunately- haven’t got around to making my own beef stock yet), brought it back to the simmer and popped it into the preheated oven, with a lid on.

Adding the wine and reducing down

Adding the wine and reducing down

After two hours the dumplings get added.  These were easy to make, but I found that they needed more water than indicated.

Dumplings ready to go.

Dumplings ready to go.

Thie stew was finished 30 minutes later.  I would say my total prep time was 45 minutes, and that was being generous.  Family vote- 8.5/10.  Which is good let me tell you (got a 9.5/10 for the first time ever on a cake last night- they truly are my biggest critics).

James Martin- Slow- Beef stew with dumplings

James Martin- Slow- Beef stew with dumplings