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Image from Shutterstock stock library

This month’s theme for BSFIC was Dairy Free – either by use of a dairy substitute or skipping it completely. I hope you enjoy the delicious entries below!

Kip March BSFIC

In that brief sunny period at the beginning of March, when it seemed as though spring had firmly sprung, Kip the Messy Vegetarian Cook created this Vegan Cream Cheese Ice Cream drizzled with chocolate sauce and hundreds and thousands.

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I was next, with my very first dairy free ice cream. I kept it very simple by combining coconut milk with chocolate and adding a splash of coconut rum for a Bounty-inspired Chocolate & Coconut Dairy Free Ice Cream.

Ros March BSFIC

Baking Addict Ros served her Lemongrass and lime Sorbet with Lime Jelly, creating a lush green and white dessert. She used an egg white to give body and texture to her sorbet, a little like the lemon spoom I made a few years ago.

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Corin from Proware Kitchen made a luscious Cherry Garcia Coconut Milk Ice Cream featuring roasted cherries, black rum and coconut. She is a fan of coconut milk ice cream bases which are light and refreshing but still provide a creamy consistency.

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I love the idea of combining tahini into a frozen banana instant treat, as in Kellie’s Vegan Banana & Cardamom-Tahini Ice Cream on Food To Glow.

Monica March BSFIC

Monica at Smarter Fitter keeps dairy out of the mix entirely in her vibrant Mango Chilli Sorbet made using tinned kesar mango puree. As a mango aficionado I can tell you that kesar, along with alphonso, mangoes make really excellent sorbet, and the additional of chilli must surely add a killer kick.

Helen March

Over at Fuss Free Flavours, Helen has created another vibrant treat, her Blackberry, Apple & Thyme Sorbet. I bet that hint of herb makes this sorbet much more grown up in flavour.

IceCreamChallenge

Hotel Chocolat kindly supported this month’s BSFIC by giving us one of their brand new Milk Free Milk Chocolate easter eggs to give away and after reviewing all the entries, they have selected Kip’s Vegan Cream Cheese Ice Cream to win their new Milk-Free Milk Scrambled Egg easter egg! Well done, Kip!

In the meantime, look out for the next BSFIC challenge, coming shortly!

 

Wary of degradation from a slightly longer than ideal stint in the freezer, I wondered what to make with our last portion of last year’s skrei (beautiful Norwegian cod from the Barents sea). Fish pie was on my mind, but I didn’t fancy the cod and boiled egg fish pie recipe we have made previously; and with just short of 600 grams of cod, I didn’t want to make a mixed seafood fish pie either, though I’m sure salmon, smoked fish or perhaps some big juicy prawns would be a tasty combination.

Instead, I remembered how much I like the combination of chorizo and cod in this baked chorizo, cod and potatoes recipe that we’ve made several times.

An idle search on Google revealed surprisingly little variation in fish pie recipes, so I decided to go out on a limb and pull together a recipe using flavours I felt would work well together , even if no one else had combined them in a fish pie before – we made a chorizo, pea and cod filling topped with buttery mashed potato and it was marvellous; definitely one to make again!

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I used a full 200 gram Unearthed cooking chorizo, which was a generous amount. Reduce to 100 grams for just a hint of chorizo, 150 grams for a decent hit or stick to my 200 grams for a chorizo feast. We only had 100 grams of frozen peas left, but I’ll up to 150-200 grams next time, as per my original intention. Although cooking chorizo releases some oil as it cooks, I add more to the pan to ensure sufficient flavoured oil to make the white sauce.

Kavey’s Chorizo, Cod & Pea Pie Recipe

Serves 4

Ingredients
100-200 grams cooking chorizo, 1 cm dice
3 tablespoons cooking oil
1 pint milk
570 grams cod fillet, skinned and checked for bones
4 medium potatoes, peeled and chopped
Generous knob of butter
1-2 tablespoons plain white flour
150-200 grams frozen petit pois

Method

  • Cook chorizo and cooking oil over a medium flame until chorizo is just cooked through.
  • Remove chorizo from the pan using a slotted spoon. Pour chorizo-flavoured oil into a separate bowl or jug. Set both aside.
  • Heat the milk in a saucepan and poach the cod over a low flame until cooked through, approximately 15 minutes depending on the thickness of your fillets.
  • While the cod is poaching, put your potatoes on to boil, drain once cooked and mash with a little butter.
  • Once the cod is cooked, strain the milk from the pan, set aside in a jug or bowl.
  • Gently break the cod into small pieces, set aside.
  • Combine 3-4 tablespoons of chorizo-flavoured oil with the flour and cook for a few minutes, then add strained poaching milk and simmer until the sauce thickens.
  • Preheat the oven to 180 C (fan).
  • Place cod, chorizo and peas into a casserole dish, pour over the chorizo-flavoured sauce and gently mix to combine.
  • Spoon the buttery mash over the pie filling and use a fork to create a spiky surface.
  • Transfer to the oven and cook until the potatoes brown nicely on top, about 20-25 minutes.
  • Serve immediately.

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I think this recipe is a winner and I’d love you to give it a try and let me know how you get on and what you think!

Need more inspiration? Check out these Ten Fantastic Fish Pie Recipes:

And two related recipes:

 

My first thought, when deciding what diary free ice cream recipe to make for this month’s Bloggers Scream For Ice Cream challenge, was to wonder whether I might be able to make a custard using eggs, sugar and almond milk? It’s still an experiment I’m keen to try.

But I’ve discovered that many people assume dairy free also means egg free – a hangover, perhaps,  from when the dairy aisle of grocery stores sold not only milk products but eggs too. As far as I’m concerned dairy means milk, cream, butter, buttermilk, yoghurt and cheese. Still, I decided to make a dairy and egg free recipe, so the almond milk custard will have to wait a little longer.

Coconut milk is an great choice for dairy free ice creams because of its high fat content and silky-smooth texture. Inspired by the famous chocolate bar, I went for a chocolate and coconut milk ice cream base, using unrefined caster sugar to sweeten. Do use unsweetened cocoa or dark chocolate for this recipe, as milk chocolate and hot chocolate powders contain milk powder.

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The finished result isn’t quite as rich and creamy as a dairy cream or custard base but it’s still pretty good and I like that the flavour of the coconut milk is quite subtle – almost lost against the chocolate, unless you boost it deliberately.

If you’d like a more obvious coconut flavour – as I did given my chocolate coconut bar inspiration – a slug of malibu does the trick and has the added bonus of making your finished ice cream a little softer and easier scoop.

If you want to make dairy free chocolate ice cream without a pronounced coconut flavour, use a slug of white rum instead. You can, of course, omit alcohol entirely, but this ice cream sets pretty hard even with alcohol added, so you’ll need to leave it out of the freezer for a while before attempting to scoop it.

Bountilicious Chocolate & Coconut Dairy Free Ice Cream Recipe

(& rum and chocolate variant)

Makes approximately half a litre

Ingredients
400 ml full fat coconut milk
50 grams of (unsweetened) cocoa *
50 grams sugar, plus extra to taste
2 tablespoons Malibu coconut rum ~

* If you can’t find unsweetened cocoa, use same weight of good quality dark chocolate (with no milk content) and break into pieces or grate before use. A power blender like mine (see sidebar) has the power to pulverise chocolate into a powder but if you have a regular blender, grate before use.
~ Malibu adds a punch of coconut flavour. For a rum and chocolate ice cream, switch malibu for white rum.

Method

  • Place all ingredients in a blender and blitz until completely smooth; taste to check there is no remaining texture of sugar granules.
  • Do a taste check and add more sugar if you prefer a sweeter flavour.
  • If the blending has warmed the mixture, set aside to cool.
  • Churn in an ice cream machine, according to instructions.
  • Serve immediately or freeze to firm the texture further.

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This is my entry for this month’s Dairy Free #BSFIC. Come back at the end of the month to see a round up of all the entries.

IceCreamChallenge

Fellow bloggers, do join in, you have a couple of weeks left to blog your entry and there’s the added bonus of a delicious prize of dairy free milk chocolate in the form of a Hotel Chocolat easter egg.

 

Long before I started this blog, I was sharing recipes online at Mamta’s Kitchen, our family cookbook on the web, named after my mum who has contributed the bulk of the recipes, with many more given by family, friends and readers. Mamta’s Kitchen has been going strong since 2001 and is a wonderful way to share the joys of cooking with people from all over the world. Mum continues to add new recipes and respond to reader queries via the discussion forum.

I’ve heard from friends about mothers who refuse to share their precious recipes even with their own sons and daughters, presumably gripped by a need to keep kudos for themselves, to be known as the only one who can make the very best victoria sponge, steak and kidney pudding, tandoori chicken, even at the expense of the recipe being lost to the world when they pass away. In some cases, a recipe is shared but a key ingredient or step miswritten or omitted entirely, all the better to cling to top dog status and ensure that no-one else can match them.

But that’s not how my mum is at all, nor any of our family or friends. Mum is quick to point out that she has learned how to cook from so many others – not just her immediate family but the wider extended family of in-laws and cousins and cousins of cousins not to mention a lifetime of friends, cookery books and TV cookery programmes.

In turn, mum loves to share her recipes, investing them with all the tips she can think of to help others achieve the best results possible. If she finds a better way of explaining how to do something, another way of helping someone understand, she goes back and updates the recipe accordingly.

And if others can make a dish that is just as good as hers by following her recipe, that doesn’t lessen the deliciousness when she makes it herself!

Indeed, I’ve come to see how it adds even more joy – I can no longer make my mum’s Lucknowi-inspired lamb biryani without thinking fondly of all the people who have made and loved the recipe (and come back to let us know).  The recipe we call “mum’s chicken curry” is now made by many other mums across the world, and I hope their children love it as much as my mum’s children do! There are many London friends who have not only tried my spicy tomato ketchup but are aware that the recipe was passed down from my grandfather to my mother and now to me and many others.

Unusually for his generation, my maternal grandfather (my “nana” in Hindi) was fond of both gardening and cooking. A sugar chemist by trade, he spent a few years of his early career making not only sugar but confectionery, sauces, pickles and chutneys the recipes for which he carefully recorded in a ‘Preserves’ notebook. Mum has translated these recipes, many of which were for cooking in bulk, to suit a domestic kitchen, and many of them are shared on Mamta’s Kitchen. Not only are they wonderfully tasty, they give us a way to connect with my grandfather, who passed away when I was very young. He may be gone but he is still part of our our family tree and our recipe tree.

This recipe for tomato ketchup can be adapted to your tastes and I’ve made batches with ripe red and yellow tomatoes and also with unripe green ones, adding a little extra sugar to compensate for the tarter fruit.

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Spicy ketchup made from ripe red and yellow (sungold) and unripe green tomatoes

 

My Grandfather’s Spicy Tomato Ketchup

Ingredients
1 kg ripe tomatoes, unpeeled, chopped if large
Half a small onion, diced
1-2 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
Whole spices in fabric bag *
5-6 cloves
2 black cardamoms, cracked open to release flavours
Half teaspoon whole black peppers, cracked open to release flavours
Half teaspoon cumin seeds
1-2 small pieces of cinnamon or cassia bark
Ground Spices
Half teaspoon nutmeg, freshly grated if possible
1 teaspoon chilli powder (or to taste)
2 level teaspoons mustard powder
40 grams sugar (with extra available to adjust to taste)
50 ml cider vinegar (with extra available to adjust to taste)
1 teaspoon salt

* Instead of wrapping my whole spices in muslin tied with string, I use fill-your-own teabags for speed. These are easy to fish back out of the pot and throw away once used.

Method

  • Sterilise your jars and lids. I boil my lids in a pan on the stove for 20 minutes before laying them out to dry on a clean tea towel. I sterilise my glass jars in a hot oven, leaving them in the oven until I’m ready to fill them.
  • Place tomatoes, onion, garlic and bag of whole spices into a large pan. Add a couple of tablespoons of water to stop the tomatoes catching at the bottom before they release their own juices.
  • Cook until soft.
  • Allow to cool a little. Remove spice bag.
  • Blend into as smooth a puree as you can.
  • Press through a sieve to remove skin and seed residue.
  • Place the sieved liquid into a pan with the nutmeg, chilli powder and mustard powder and bring to the boil.
  • If your liquid is quite thin, boil longer to thicken. The time this takes can vary wildly. In the past it’s taken anything from just give minutes to half an hour.
  • Add the vinegar and sugar and continue to cook until the sauce reaches ketchup consistency.
  • Add salt.
  • Taste and add additional vinegar or sugar, if needed.
  • Remove the sterilised jars from the oven and pour the ketchup into them while both ketchup and jars are still hot.
  • Seal immediately with sterilised lids.
  • Once cooled, label and store in a cool, dark cupboard. ~

~ As this recipe has only a small volume of sugar and vinegar (both of which are preserving agents), you may prefer to store the ketchup in your fridge and use within a few weeks. We have stored it in a dark cupboard, eaten it many, many months after making, and been just fine. However, we are not experts in preserving or food safety, so please do your own research and decide for yourself.

 

This post was commissioned by McCarthy & Stone for their Great British Recipe Tree campaign. Recipe copyright remains with Mamta’s Kitchen / Kavey Eats.

 

My recent post felt like a coming out ball for our new sourdough starter, Pussy Galoaf.

Today she’s graduating with honours because loaf number three was just so damn good. A gorgeous soft crumb, a fantastic fresh bread aroma with the mild tang of sourdough, a perfect crunchy crust and a lovely shape to boot.

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Perfect in the morning for a slice of buttered bread with blackberry jam and for lunch, grilled as cheese toast.

 

Inspired by my lovely friend Celia’s images of beautiful sourdough loaves, Pete and I tried recently to resurrect our last frozen pot of Levi the Levain, the 50+ year old sourdough starter we’d been given by Tom Herbert at a cooking class some years ago. Sadly, although Levi was a spritely old thing when alive and made us many fine loaves of bread, we were forced to accept that he is well and truly dead.

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Into the breach stepped Celia, sending us a little bag of flakes that made everything better.

That little bag hailed all the way from Sydney, Australia and was a dehydrated portion of Celia’s own sourdough starter, Priscilla. It came with instructions on how to rehydrate and feed, and soon we had our own jar of bubbling sourdough starter ready to use.

Celia has been creating a family tree for Priscilla, who now has offspring all around the world. As per Celia’s request, I chose a suitably Drag Queen-esque name for Priscilla’s London daughter, creating a shortlist and asking for votes. Though I had a soft spot for several of the names including Kiki La Boule, Pussy Focaccia, and Honey Fougasse, there was a runaway winner – and so our new baby starter is proudly named Pussy Galoaf!

Already, Pussy has produced loaves of beautiful flavour, with a bubbly, aerated texture I love. Of course, Pussy can only take some of the credit, the rest belongs to Baker Pete.

The first dough was a little too wet. Pete let it rise and bake in the Lékué silicon bread maker, allowing me the honour of slashing the top, though it stuck as I sliced and then oozed back in on itself. The second dough was less sloppy and he used a regular shaped loaf mould and the same sharp knife to slash; it worked much better. But I still fancy the much deeper gash that Celia has shown us on some of her loaves.

The speckled crust (which I thought was a bit strange) is apparently not uncommon and Celia tells me that some bakers even covet it – who am I to argue?

The crust on both loaves was fabulously crisp, making a satisfying noise as Pete sawed through with a breadknife. I love sourdough toast, and these loaves make great toast. The sourdough was also perfect for my fried cheese and gherkin sandwich!

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Thank you so much to Celia for sending us some of your precious Priscilla! Please accept this post as my entry to this month’s In My Kitchen!

 

It’s been a gradual (and on-going) learning process over the years to work out which cuts of beef are best suited to which dishes or cooking methods. Although I’m pretty confident about the cuts to buy for my favourite meals, I am still getting to grips with others and constantly on the look out for new ways to get the best out of them.

When I asked a few friends for their thoughts recently, it quickly became clear that choosing which cut of meat to buy isn’t an easy task for everyone. And of course, buying the wrong cut for your dish often leads to disappointment, which makes people even more nervous the next time. Says my friend Matt Gibson, “I’ve never really got the hang of the cuts, especially for beef. Basically I just buy whatever looks nice in the shop without thinking too hard about it”.

That comment spurred me on to create my guide to choosing the right cut of beef. The suggestions below are based not only on my own favourites but also incorporate recommendations from fellow bloggers, food writers and chefs.

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Beef cuts diagram via shutterstock.com

 

First, Lessons from a Master Butcher

Having been a butcher since he was 14, Martin Eccles – Master Butcher at Quality Standard Beef & Lamb – reckons that memories of bad experiences in the past also linger; during a private butchery class he explains that “plate waste” was once common when buying a chop or steak to cook at home – that’s the pieces of tendon or gristle left uneaten on the plate – but today’s butchers are moving to reduce that by cutting meat differently.

A big part of Martin’s job for Quality Standard Beef & Lamb is working with butchers to train them on adapting the way they breakdown carcasses to better suit today’s consumer. He advises them on how to to optimise “carcass utilisation” and how best to create modern cuts and smaller roasting joints to suit singles, couples and smaller families. The organisation also works with farmers and supervises the Quality Standard Beef and Lamb marks.

What does Martin mean by modern cuts? He shows me a large rump of beef and explains that it consists of three distinct muscles. Because a steak is best when cut across the grain of the muscle, he separates the three rump muscles, completely removes the silver gristle and then cuts the muscles into individual steaks. Where traditional rump steaks consist of all three muscle types held together with connective tissue, the three new cuts – picanha (aka rump cap) steaks, prime rump steaks and bistro rump steaks – are each comprised of just one muscle. They are easy to cook, tender and with no plate waste.

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Martin breaking a rump into different muscles and cuts of steak

Incidentally, here’s a quick Kavey lesson for you: Raw meat is made up of muscle, fat and connective tissue – the muscle is what we think of as meat; the fat melts or crisps during cooking, adding flavour and moisture; collagen-heavy connective tissues (such as tendons and ligaments) also break down if cooked for long enough; but other connective tissues (such as cartilage and membranes) don’t break down and are what we subsequently label as gristle. Note that while we have a preference to avoid gristle in Western cooking, the stretchy and chewy texture is prized and enjoyed in some cuisines.

Back to Martin’s lessons on newer ways of cutting beef. Whipping out a long lump of meat from the shoulder blade, he tells me that this was (and still is) commonly cut and sold as feather steak. But the feather has gristle running right down the centre, meaning that every steak has a piece of gristle at its heart. Another option is to cut the long blade into two thin pieces, remove the gristle completely and then divide the two long flat irons, as they are known, into individual portions.

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Martin cutting feather blade into two, removing membrane and creating flat iron steaks

Martin also tells me how butchery changed in the years following World War II; beef was far less readily available and animals were older and tougher too so butchers broke the meat down into smaller cuts, separating the tender ones from the tougher ones, to allow for different cooking. Now that we have access to top quality beef again, there are still cuts that benefit from long, slow cooking, but it is also be very straightforward to choose quick-to-cook, tender cuts.

 

Kavey’s Guide to Beef Cuts & Dishes

Mince

Although it’s not really a cut so much as (usually unspecified cuts of) beef ground through a mincer, mince is one of the most popular ways we buy and eat beef.

Restaurant chef Mat Follas often cooks mince at home as his kids love dishes such as “burgers, meatballs and lasagnes”. Bloggers Alicia Fourie, Laura Scott, Karen Burns-Booth and Kathryn and are also fans, praising its versatility and adding dishes such as meat loaf, chilli, spagbol, cottage pie and keema to the list. My husband Pete makes a mean ragu, letting it cook longer for a more tender texture.

Alicia’s recently purchased a mincer attachment for her stand mixer so may switch to making her own; I hope she’ll share tips on which cuts are best for which dish.

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Mince

Braising / Stewing – Shin of Beef, Ox Cheek, Brisket, Chuck, Oxtail, Short Rib, Flank

Everyone I spoke to loves braising beef – cooking it long and slow in liquid until even the toughest cuts become tender. Collagen is your friend here, as it breaks down into a gelatinous sauce that adds flavour and richness.

Blogger Sally Prosser (a Brit transplanted to Dubai) loves “slow-cooked casseroles with red wine, bay leaves and carrots or a beef stew with dumplings” at “any time of the year, even the height of a Dubai summer”. Food blogger and journalist Neil Davey buys “the low and slow” stuff (listing several braising cuts) more than anything else as he likes “no fuss hearty cooking”. At this time of the year, he uses the slow cooker a lot. “While these are no longer the bargain cuts they were, you still get a lot of bang for the buck”. He uses these rather than mince for dishes like chilli, cottage pie and pasta sauces.

Food blogger Helen Best-Shaw recommends “shin of beef for long slow cooking, it is so rich and also very affordable”. Laura agrees, telling me beef shin is her favourite “as it makes the most tender yet fully flavoured stew. It does need lots of cooking time” but she reckons its worth it.

Karen and Alicia favour brisket; Karen says it’s her “number one cut for flavour” and recommends “Hunting Beef – an old English recipe where the beef is marinated for 4 days in a spiced salt rub”. This cut is also a popular choice for making corned beef, salt beef and pastrami.

Alicia and Neil are the only ones to mention my personal favourite, ox cheek which is still an underrated (and therefore bargainous) cut. I adore it in dishes like beef cheeks bourguignon and Chinese-style braised ox cheek, but it also works beautifully substituted into recipes such as balsamic and red wine braised lamb or beef carbonnade with mustard toasts. Make sure you (or your butcher) remove(s) any remaining membranes before cooking cheeks whole or cubed. Incidentally, I’m really not sure why beef cheeks (and tails, liver and blood) are often labelled as ox – the term more commonly refers to cattle used as draft animals rather than for food. I guess it’s one of those language hangovers…

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Shin (bone in, boneless, cubed) and rolled brisket

Roasting – Rib, Picanha, Sirloin

When Martin told me that Brits roast far less than they used to, I didn’t believe him and yet only two of the friends I spoke to listed a roasting joint in their top three cuts.

Neil, Karen and I are in complete agreement that the best joint for roasting is a (fore) rib of beef. As Karen points out, it would be her number one beef purchase if the cost weren’t so prohibitive, and likewise Neil does a rib roast a couple of times a year. There’s no question in my mind that beef rib is the tastiest choice – the texture of the meat, the marbling of fat through the meat, contributing to its superb flavour. But yes, this is an expensive joint. Cooking for two, I often buy a boned and rolled rib, but if cooking for more, bone in is gorgeous.

Topside and silverside are two very common roasting joints. Usually significantly less than half the price per kilo of rib joints, this makes them very popular, and a decade ago these were the joints Pete I usually bought; we took supermarkets on their word that these cuts were great for roasting. Eventually we realised we were more often disappointed than happy with their taste and texture, and decided we’d rather have really fabulous roast beef once every few months than mediocre roast beef every couple of weeks.

Another cut that I think makes a fantastic roast is the picanha (aka rump cap). Picanha is the cut’s Brazilian name, by the way, and it’s a highly prized piece of beef. Here, it’s often cut and sold as steaks, but ask your butcher to sell you the rump cap in one piece and try it for your next roast.

My other choice, when there’s no rib available, is a very thick slab of sirloin. The meat counter in our local supermarket cuts sirloin steaks to your preferred thickness; instead of asking for steaks, I have them cut me one piece about 7-8 cm thick, which makes a quick two person roast (with leftovers for a tasty sandwich).

Where I don’t want to stretch budget to one of my three preferred roasting cuts, I’d rather roast a chicken or lamb, or cook a braising joint long and slow, in liquid.

I certainly recommend avoiding beef sold only as a ‘roasting joint’ without any indication of cut, like a recent example from our local supermarket, bought when the meat shelves were unusually bare. Sadly, for all the label’s fancy talk of Hereford Beef and 30 days dry aging, it was enormously disappointing.

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Fore rib of beef (bone in and boneless) and boneless sirloin

Steaks

The two front runners for choice of steak are rib eye followed by sirloin.

Rib eye is my own favourite, and our number one purchase for a perfect dinner of steak and triple cooked chips – Pete’s in charge of those and they’re super!

At home, Mat also chooses rib eye because “it has flavour, unlike most other cuts, from lots of fat”. Neil agrees. A few years ago he attended a comparison session between rib eye, fillet, rump and sirloin. He says, “Fillet is boring as, sirloin and rump are both very good, but a well marbled piece of rib-eye, cooked somewhere around medium-rare / medium so that there’s a char and all that fat is starting to melt? That’s what it’s all about.” Laura too loves a rib eye, “well marbled with a good layer of fat”, adding that it’s “the fat that provides the most flavour when it comes to a good steak”. She’s also a fan of wagyu (high quality, highly marbled Japanese beef) for the same reason.

Sirloin is the steak of choice for Sally, as it offers “the perfect balance of fat to meat ratio for a fat-averse family”. She also buys 3 kilo whole sirloins for the barbecue. I don’t find it as flavoursome as rib eye but if you can find a longer aged piece, that helps.

What about other cuts?

Steaks from the rump are usually very good, though I’d recommend seeking out the newer cuts Martin describes above, where the three rump muscles are separated and then cut into steaks individually.

Kathryn reckons that “ribeye and rump give you quite a lot of ‘bang for your buck’ particularly when it comes to flavour”. She also finds rump “is a bit more forgiving when it comes to timings and you can cook it for a little longer and it doesn’t get ruined”.

Incidentally, when it comes to cooking any of the fattier steaks (such as rib eye) I recommend taking them to medium rare (or even medium if that’s your preference) rather than rare; this allows the fat within the meat to melt and the larger pieces of fat to brown.

Flat iron, another cut that I talked to Martin about, is another tasty and somewhat more affordable choice, though I rarely see it in supermarkets; a butcher is your best bet. It’s cut from feather blade piece but divided into two to remove the central gristle, which leaves two long thin pieces that can be portioned into three or four steaks.

If you’ve ever travelled to France you’ll be familiar with onglet and bavette, two popular cuts served in restaurants across the country. Karen (who spends much of her time in France) loves rump for flavour but in France she’ll usually opt for bavette, which offers flavour at a great price. So what are onglet and bavette in UK terminology? Onglet is known here as hanger, skirt or butcher’s steak, cut from the plate (diaphragm) area and with a really deep flavour. Bavette is flank steak, taken from just behind the onglet and is also dense and well flavoured. Both are best cooked fast on a very hot griddle, medium rare to rare. Overcooking these can result in dry or tough steaks.

Flat iron, onglet/skirt and bavette/flank are also great choices for marinating before cooking.

Fillet is known as the most tender cut, but it has very little fat and lacks the flavour of the other cuts; I would never choose it myself. (For American readers, this cut is what you guys call tenderloin).

beef_thin flank(skirt)
Skirt (onglet) steak

 

Buying British

Perhaps it’s a function of who I asked, but everyone I spoke to makes an effort to seek out British beef and lamb.

Mat, being a kiwi, has an excuse for choosing New Zealand lamb, though he also points out that British lamb is sold in early spring when it’s not had much time running around in fields and is too young to have developed enough flavour. When it comes to beef, he buys British. For his restaurant he buys from a butcher or wholesaler, for home it’s a split between butcher and supermarket. He says he’d “rather spend a little more for quality and have less quantity”, echoing my own thoughts on enjoying a fabulous beef rib roast every now and again rather than an inferior roast every fortnight.

Karen buys British when she’s in the UK and French or New Zealand when in France, preferring organic, locally sourced meat with a known provenance.

Neil explains that although he’s “been known to happily devour USDA steaks at Goodman”, when cooking at home, he buys British, noting that “we produce some of the finest meat in the world; the fall out of the BSE problem and Foot & Mouth has been a massive improvement in farming standards and improved labelling”.

Laura has been to visit two animals farms (something I’ve also done) and believes “our meat is of a high standard”. She buys organic or Freedom foods meat, keeping an eye out for special offers which she stores in the freezer.

Alicia always seeks out British, and if there’s none available, she doesn’t buy. She says that although “Rayner makes a compelling case for New Zealand lamb, for [her] it isn’t about the food miles so much as supporting British farmers and creating food that has a sense of the place we live in”. She doesn’t “understand steak houses that open here making a virtue of the fact that they use American beef – the British beef I have had is the best I have had anywhere”.

While Matt may not yet have much knowledge of cuts, he does “pretty much avoid buying non-British”. As he hates the “overall big supermarket experience” he buys most of his meat from local independent butchers, which he has within walking distance. When “it’s a choice between rubbish ‘local’ supermarkets who aren’t good for meat, or fabulous, friendly independent butchers who really know what they’re doing, it’s no surprise I end up in the butchers”.

 

Contributors

Alicia Fourie foodycat.blogspot.co.uk
Helen Best-Shaw fussfreeflavours.com
Karen Burns-Booth lavenderandlovage.com
Kathryn londonbakes.com
Laura Scott howtocookgoodfood.co.uk
Mat Follas matfollas.com
Matt Gibson gothick.org.uk
Neil Davey nrdavey.co.uk
Sally Prosser mycustardpie.com

With thanks to Quality Standard Beef & Lamb for arranging a private masterclass with Martin Eccles and giving us some delicious British beef and lamb to take home. Further information about British beef (and lamb), including quality assurance, nutrition, cuts and carving advice can be found at the Simply Lamb & Beef website. Additional images courtesy of Quality Standard Mark and Shutterstock.

 

There’s no denying that I love going out to eat. But I’m also very partial indeed to a really good takeaway – whether we dine at the table or slob out in front of the TV, having great food delivered from local restaurants is a wonderful indulgence. For the last couple of years, we’ve happily foregone the frantic search for a takeaway menu, not to mention the irritation of dishes and prices being out of date, by ordering online via JUST EAT. Being able to pay by card is a boon too.

Tried & Tasted 2012-2015 consistency logo

One of JUST EAT’s regular campaigns is their Tried & Tasted award scheme – customers across the country feed back on their favourite local takeaways via the website’s reviews and ratings scheme and JUST EAT give awards based on the ratings. In order to ensure both consistency and quality, JUST EAT stipulate that winning restaurants must have more than 100 online reviews with an average rating of 4.5 or above. This year, on top of awarding Tried & Tasted status to over 8000 restaurants, there is a new Consistency award that recognises the nation’s top 1000 from those establishments that have achieved Tried & Tasted for 4 years in a row.

The 2015 Tried & Tasted results are now out and I can’t wait to see which of my local favourites have been recognised by fellow customers.

 JE logo

COMPETITION

JUST EAT UK are offering one reader of Kavey Eats a £50 credit voucher to spend on their website.

HOW TO ENTER

You can enter the competition in 2 ways – the more ways you enter, the higher your chances of winning:

Entry 1 – Blog Comment
Leave a comment below, telling me the name of your favourite Just Eat local takeaway and why you love it.

Entry 2 – Twitter
Follow @Kavey and @JustEatUK on Twitter. Existing followers are, of course, welcome to enter! Then tweet the (exact) sentence below:
I love a top notch takeaway so I’m entering Kavey Eats’ @JustEatUK Tried & Tasted comp to win £50 voucher http://bit.ly/KEjusteat #KEJustEat
(Do not add the @Kavey twitter handle into the tweet; I track entries using the competition hash tag. And please don’t leave a blog comment about your tweet either, thanks!)

RULES & DETAILS

  • The deadline for entries is midnight GMT Saturday 14 March 2015.
  • Kavey Eats reserves the right to alter the closing date of the competition. Changes to the closing date, if they occur, will be shown on this page.
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  • Entry instructions form part of the terms and conditions.
  • Where prizes are to be provided by a third party, Kavey Eats accepts no responsibility for the acts or defaults of that third party.
  • The prize is a £50 voucher to be used on JUST EAT UK.
  • The prize cannot be redeemed for a cash value.
  • The prize is offered and provided by JUST EAT UK.
  • One blog entry per person only. One Twitter entry per person only. You may enter both ways but you do not have to do so for your entries to be valid.
  • For Twitter entries, winners must be following @Kavey and @JustEatUK at the time of notification. Blog comment entries must provide a valid email address for contacting the winner.
  • The winners will be notified by email or Twitter so please make sure you check your accounts for the notification message.
  • If no response is received from a winner within 7 days of notification, the prize will be forfeit and a new winner will be picked and contacted.

Kavey Eats received a credit voucher from JUST EAT UK.

The winner is @mickflieg (twitter entry).

 

I wrote recently about why I (and many others) love our microwaves, and also about how we’ve been getting on with our new Heston for Sage Quick Touch.

To put it through it’s paces, we’ve not only been defrosting, softening, melting, reheating, sterilising, steaming… we’ve been pushing it a little further and seeing how else we can use it. These fabulously easy microwave salted caramels can certainly be made on the stove, but we found the microwave method very quick and straightforward and they turned out absolutely perfectly.

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The recipe I’ve used is adapted from a number of American ones I found on the web; I’ve amended the amounts, partly because of what I had available in the stock cupboard and partly because I prefer to work in (metric) weight measurements rather than (cup) volume ones. One of the sugars this recipe calls for is corn syrup, which is far more prevalent in the US than here in the UK. From what I’ve read, I think the inverted sugar helps to form a smooth and glossy finish.

I had some corn syrup that I bought recently in the US so I didn’t need to substitute, however as corn syrup is difficult to find in the UK, my understanding is that you can substitute glucose syrup (which can be made from corn, potatoes, wheat or even rice) – this is sometimes labelled as liquid glucose or confectioner’s syrup.

thermospatula
The thermospatula!

Some recipes advise cooking until the caramel reaches soft ball stage, which means the caramel solidifies into a coherent ball when a spoonful is dropped into cold water. I find that really difficult to judge, so I prefer to use a thermometer to make sure the mixture gets hot enough. For the last few months, I’ve been using my new thermospatula from Lakeland – it’s much easier than using my old traditional metal jam thermometer clipped to the side of the pan which made it difficult to stir – now the stirring spoon is the thermometer!)

This recipe produces a soft chewy caramel with a delicious buttery flavour. I’ll be a little more generous when I sprinkle sea salt on top next time, as the crunch and flavour of those little white flakes is gorgeous.

Easy Microwave Salted Caramels

Makes approximately 50

Ingredients

For the caramel:
Butter for greasing
120 grams butter
180 grams light corn syrup (or glucose syrup)
200 grams Demerara sugar or light brown sugar*
200 ml condensed milk
1/8 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste (or 0.5 tsp vanilla extract)
For sprinkling:
2-3 generous pinches sea salt

* You can substitute regular (white) sugar if you don’t have light brown.

Note: Since this recipe is for salted caramels, I went ahead and used lightly salted butter as that’s what we always have in our fridge. Use unsalted if you prefer.

Note: Make sure the bowl you use is heatproof to a high temperature (we used Pyrex). The mixture boils and expands enormously during cooking so the bowl also needs to be at least three or four times as large as the initial volume of all the ingredients.

Method

  • Grease a baking dish or roasting pan with butter and set aside.
  • In a large heatproof mixing bowl, melt the butter, then add all the other caramel ingredients and mix well.
  • Microwave on full power until mixture reaches a temperature of 115 °C (240 °F). We started checking after 5 minutes and returned the bowl to cook further in 30 second bursts. Full power on our microwave is 1100 watts, and our mixture took 7.5 minutes. If your microwave is less powerful, you may need to cook for a few more minutes. The mixture will start boiling and expanding long before it is ready; you need to keep cooking until you reach temperature or your caramel won’t set when it cools back down.
  • Once it’s ready, pour into prepared baking dish. It should naturally spread out such that the surface is flat.
  • After it’s cooled for a couple of minutes, sprinkle sea salt generously across the surface.
  • Leave to cool for at least an hour.
  • Use a sharp knife to cut into squares or rectangles and wrap individually in squares of parchment paper.
  • Store in the fridge, especially in warm weather.

If you try this recipe, please come back and let me know how you got on. I’d love to hear from you!

Kavey Eats received a Quick Touch microwave and a thermospatula for review. The Lakeland link is an affiliate link, please see sidebar for more information.

 

I grew up in Luton, which may not sound like a hotbed of multiculturalism but our personal corner of it always was – our family friends included Chinese, Jewish, Indians, Irish, Malaysians, Scottish, Sri Lankans amongst others. When it came to New Year, we celebrated according to both the Gregorian and traditional Chinese lunar calendars. I will never forget the days we spent running wild with the other kids around the farm house, outbuildings and extensive gardens of Uncle John and Aunty Margaret, in between repeated bouts of feasting from a huge kitchen table groaning with dishes and the all-important steamboat. Cherished memories…

So it’s a shame that I seldom cook Chinese food at home; it remains something we tend to eat out, not least because I have a soft spot for dim sum, hard work to make at home (given the sheer variety that can be enjoyed in a single inexpensive meal out). The same goes for roast duck and many other favourite dishes.

That said, I have been using Amoy products for many years; mainly their soy sauces which are available in varieties including light, dark, reduced fat and special selection. I recently tried the lemongrass and kaffir lime one, which adds a lovely rounded citrus flavour – perfect for one of my favourite simple marinades for grilled lamb chops – mix soy, mustard and honey to taste and spread over the meat before grilling.

The meal below was created using some of Amoy’s other products, which they sent to me along with Chinese lanterns, fortune cookies and gold-embossed red envelopes, used to give monetary gifts on special occasions. I’ve added a bowl of clementines, not only because they’re one of my favourite fruits but because oranges are a common gift at Chinese New Year, associated with prayers for good fortune. Fresh fruit also symbolises a new beginning.

Red, gold and orange are the key colours for Chinese New Year, and make laying a themed table simple to achieve. If you are able to add in a few lanterns and red envelopes of your own, so much the better!

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We weren’t so keen on the Amoy straight-to-wok medium noodles, which we combined with spring onions, beansprouts and Amoy’s chow mein stir fry sauce – the texture of the noodles was mushy (though we cooked them exactly as instructed) and the sauce wasn’t one I’d buy again.

But we enjoyed the Amoy satay stir fry sauce which we combined with chicken thighs, button mushrooms and sugar snaps. I’d serve this over rice rather than add noodles to the pan (as recommended in the instructions).

7874-AmoyCNY-KaveyEats-(c)KavitaFavelle-textoverlay 7877-AmoyCNY-KaveyEats-(c)KavitaFavelle-textoverlay

Wishing all my readers a very happy Chinese New Year – Kung Hei Fat Choy!

Kavey Eats received a selection of sample products, decorations and a supermarket voucher from Amoy.

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