Beef Stroganoff

It’s July. It’s summer. It’s Ireland so winter fare still makes a regular appearance on the menu! It is part of what we call our Sum-inter menu – if the Gods can combine seasons so can we!

So Beef Stroganoff – not exactly a summer dish but very tasty. This recipe is at least thirty five years old and has fed hordes of family and friends through the ages. While there are very few ingredients in the sauce, it is still delicious. Quick to prepare, slow cooking and the dish is done. We serve it with boiled long grain rice.

And the photograph? The pot was empty before I had a chance to snap!

Serves 4
1½ lbs – 2lb rib steak, cut into pieces
1 large onion, sliced
Good pinch of curry powder
1 tablespoon of flour
2-3 tablespoons tomato purée
1 pint good quality beef stock
2 tablespoons sunflower oil
2 ounces butter
2 teaspoons English mustard
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2-3 tablespoons sour cream

1. Place the beef in a bowl. Add salt, pepper, mustard and curry powder and make sure meat is coated in this mix
2. Heat the butter in a saucepan and fry the onion until soft
3. Add the flour and combine thoroughly, cooking for a few minutes
4. Add the stock in stages making sure that with each addition, it is combined with the onion-flour mix and there are no lumps
5. When coming to the boil, add in the tomato purée, salt and a generous grind of black pepper
6. Heat the oil in a frying pan and brown the meat
7. Add the meat to the sauce and simmer for c.1 hour until the meat is tender
8. Add the sour cream and cook for simmer for another 10 minutes
9. Serve with boiled long grain rice.

Beef, Ragu

Slow-cooked Beef Ragu


Mince may be a flexible ingredient but we often tire of it too! Today, we wanted a pasta dish but with something a little different. Suggestions were made for salmon and cream sauce, carbonara, bolognaise, tomato and basil but the teen greeted all suggestions with a ‘meh’ response.

For a change, I slow cooked beef Ragu in the oven made with a strip of beef rather than minced meat. Yes, it was very rich but it was also rather delicious. Cooking it slowly gave the dish time for the flavour to deepen. The meat absorbed all the other flavours and liquid. At the end of the cooking process, it simply fell apart. The completed dish really was a winner!

The preparation was also quick. As this was oven cooked, I didn’t pre-fry anything so there was no added fat. This recipe serves 4-6.

2lbs rib steak
1 large onion, sliced in rings
4 cloves of garlic, chopped in small pieces
1 tablespoon of parsley, chopped
2 sprigs of rosemary, stems removed
2 carrots, diced
2 celery stalks, diced
1 tin of chopped tomatoes in own juice
1 pint good quality beef stock
¼ pint red wine
4 tablespoons tomato puree
Salt and pepper

1. Heat oven to 220 C
2. Cover the bottom of a heavy casserole dish with the chopped vegetables and lay the meat flat out on top
3. Mix all the wet ingredients and herbs together. Season with salt and pepper
4. Pour this mix over the meat and vegetables
5. Place greaseproof paper over the top to help seal the dish and secure the lid on top
6. Place in the oven and after 15 minutes, reduce the heat to 150 C
7. Cook at this heat for 3 to 3 ½ hours – it is done when the meat is falling apart and the sauce has reduced
8. Remove from the oven and mix together
9. Cover and leave to stand for 10 minutes
10. Serve with pasta of choice


Beef, Chilli

Dining around schedules


We’re on different schedules these days, the teen and me. Not only do I need a dinner which fits but something which can be served with a range of different items according to the mood of the diner. So a big pot of chilli suits all these. Spicy and tasty. In this home, it is served with rice, baked potatoes, potato wedges, in pitta bread with salad or in a bowl with some grated cheese on top.

1 lb good quality minced beef
2 tins chopped tomatoes
1 tin kidney beans or black beans drained and rinsed
1 medium onion chopped finely
3 cloves garlic chopped finely
1 hot chilli deseeded and chopped very finely or 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 red pepper deseeded and chopped finely
1 1/2 teaspoons cumin seeds
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 1/2 teaspoons ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 tablespoon honey
1-2 tablespoons lime juice
2 tablespoons tomato puree
2 tablespoons sunflower oil
Salt and pepper

1. In a heavy saucepan, heat the oil and fry the onions for about 5 minutes
2. Add in the garlic, chilli and red pepper – frying for another couple of minutes
3. Break up the mince, add to the pan and after coating with the onion mix, brown the meat
4. Stir in the spices and cook for another minute
5. Add in the rest of the ingredients
6. Reduce to a simmer and cook slowly for about 1 hour

Beef, Burgers, Burgers

We’re all about burgers


It doesn’t matter how amazing food is or how sophisticated the dining experience, there are times when we simply crave burgers. Not the frozen variety but the homemade version. It’s not merely about the taste but the whole ensemble.

The wrapper has to be correct – whether it be bun, crusty roll, pitta bread or flatbread. The accompaniments must be just right too – assortment of salads and sauces. There has to be sauce as a burger is too dry without one!

We alternate between beef and lamb depending on what we fancy. The lamb burger is spicy and is best made in advance while the beef ones can be prepped and cooked at the same time.

Each recipe makes four large or six medium sized burgers.

1lb beef minced
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 tablespoons parsley, finely chopped
1 teaspoon dried mixed herbs
1 cup breadcrumbs
1 large egg, beaten
Salt and ground black pepper
Sunflower oil for frying

1. Mix all ingredients together until completely combined
2. Shape into four or six burgers
3. Heat the oil and place the burgers in the pan
4. Reduce heat and fry for 4-6 minutes on each side depending on preferences
5. Alternatively, these can be cooked in the oven by placing the burgers on a baking sheet. Place in a pre-heated oven at 180 degrees for 10-15 minutes depending on preference. There is no need to add oil
6. Serve immediately on a burger bun or crusty roll with salad (shredded lettuce, tomato, onion, carrot) or cheese with or without crispy bacon and sauces (ketchup, mayonaise, mayonaise mixed with curry powder or chilli jam or horseradish).


1lb lamb, minced
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 large garlic cloves, minced finely
1½ inch piece ginger, grated finely
1-2 green chillis, chopped finely (Cayenne Pepper can be used if necessary but it is best to use fresh chillis)
1½ cups bread crumbs
1 large egg, beaten
1½ tsp garam masala
1 tsp cumin
Salt and ground black pepper
Sunflower oil for frying

1. Combine onion, garlic, ginger and chilli and blend into a rough paste
2. Add to the mince
3. Add breadcrumbs, garam masala, cumin, beaten egg, salt and pepper
4. Mix until all ingredients are completely combined
5. Refrigerate the mix for 30 minutes or until needed
6. Divide into four or six burgers
7. Heat the oil and place the burgers in the pan
8. Reduce heat and fry for 5 minutes on each side
9. Serve immediately on crusty rolls, flatbread or in pitta bread
10. Accompaniments can include salad (chopped tomatoes, lettuce, grated carrot, red onion), natural yoghurt (plain, herbed or raita), mayonnaise and/or chilli jam

Beef, Keema

The Versatility of Mince…

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Minced meat always makes it into my shopping basket a couple of times a month. If it is lamb, it could end up as tasty Kofta served in flatbreads or a rich Moussaka. If it is chicken, it would usually be made into spicy burgers served in pitta breads with oodles of salad and lashings of yoghurt. If it was turkey – okay, that never ends up in my shopping basket as I don’t like the stuff minced!

Beef mince is the most common purchase as it can be moulded into all shapes and sizes. It is cooked and spiced according to recipes of different far-flung places. It could be juicy homemade burgers or comforting Shepard’s Pie. It could be rich lasagna or a rather spicy chilli with oodles of beans.

This week was different. Mince may be versatile but I groaned – loudly – when I saw it. I had no interest in cooking any of the favourites, let alone eating them. I needed to think of an alternative. Aha! I thought! I’ll cook Keema.

Never having cooking it before, I searched through a number of recipes and cooking styles. Garnering bits and pieces, I set about preparing my own version. Did it work? It worked wonderfully! Although I cooked rice, I didn’t eat it as I found the Keema too filling. Instead, I ate it with a small naan bread. The Teen ate it just as it was.

Traditional Keema contains peas but I left them out. Don’t get me wrong – I love them but not when they have been slow-cooked and turn that icky grey-green colour! They taste fine – it is simply a question of the look of the little spheres!

Instead of opting for a stove top method, I slow-cooked the Keema in the oven. I wanted it to have a richness of flavour which cooking in a pot rarely achieves to the same depth.


Minced Beef Keema
(serves 4-6)

1 large onion chopped roughly
3-4 cloves garlic chopped roughly
1 fresh chilli chopped roughly
1 piece of ginger (about 1.5 inches long) peeled and chopped into small pieces
1 1/2 lbs minced beef
1lb potatoes peeled and cut into large, bite size cubes
1-2 cinnamon sticks (according to taste)
1 teaspoon cumin seeds crushed
1 teaspoon coriander seeds crushed
1 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon garam masala
1 tin chopped tomatoes
1 tablespoon tomato puree
1/2 pint good quality beef stock
2 tablespoons sunflower oil
Salt and pepper to season
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional – if prefer more of a kick)

1. Pre-heat the oven to 180C
2. Blitz the onion, chilli, ginger and garlic in a food blender to make a paste
3. Heat the oil in a heavy (cast iron) casserole dish
4. Fry the onion paste for 2 minutes and then add the mince, mixing it in with the paste and cooking for about 5 minutes
5. Add in all the spices and cook for a further 2 minutes
6. Add the potatoes, tomatoes, tomato puree, half of the beef stock, salt and pepper
7. Cover and place in the oven
8. Cook at 180C for about 10 minutes and then reduce to 160C, cooking for a further 40 minutes
9. If the mix is too thick, add the remainder of the stock at about the 30 minute point of cooking. Some cayenne pepper may also be added at this  point if you prefer the dish to have more spice
10. When cooked, remove from oven and let stand for about 5 minutes
11. Remove cinnamon stick and give the mixture a gentle stir so as not to break up the potatoes
12. Serve on a plate with rice or in a bowl – on its own or with a warm naan bread.

Beef, Spaghetti and Meatballs

Spaghetti, Meatballs and Song…

This week, I resurrected one of the Teen’s favourite dinners from when she was a tot. Not only did she like the dish for its flavour but because it always involved singing too. How can you have spaghetti without belting out…

On top of spaghetti, all covered with cheese
I lost my poor meatball when somebody sneezed
It rolled in the garden and onto the floor
And then my poor meatball, it rolled out the door
It rolled in the garden and under a bush
And then my poor meatball was nothing but…

I dreaded making this dish as I found the preparation sooooooo tedious. That was then. Originally, I hand-rolled each and every meatball, coated each in flour and pan fried each and every one of them before adding them to the sauce. One day, my pal Jimmy, who’s a chef, guided me towards making this a far easier meal to make. Using a small ice cream scoop cuts out work and makes the meatballs the same size. Baking them in the oven on a tray takes out even more of the work and more importantly, with no added oil, removes the frying aspect of the dish. Once the process got easier, the Teen asked for it even more! Eh…thanks, Jimmy… 🙂

For us, Spaghetti and Meatballs remains a fun dish full of nostalgia and it’s a great dish when cooking for pals. This recipe feeds 4-6 and is well received by young and those who like to remember being young.  It also remains a very tasty dish where spaghetti can be swapped for different shaped pasta or, dare I say it, rice?!?! There is a kick to this recipe as it contains chilli. If you don’t want it spicy, simply ditch the chilli!


Spaghetti and Meatballs

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1 chilli, finely chopped (optional)
1 heaped tablespoon of flour
3 fluid ounces of good quality beef stock
1 heaped tablespoon, tomato puree
1 tablespoon parsley, chopped finely
1 tablespoon basil, chopped finely
2 tins chopped tomatoes
Salt and ground pepper to season

2lbs minced beef
1 small onion, chopped as finely as possible
1 heaped cup breadcrumbs
1 large egg, beaten
Good shake of dried parsley
Salt and Pepper

To serve
Cooked pasta
Grated cheese

1. Preheat the oven at 180C
2. To make the meatballs, blend all the ingredients together
3. With a small ice cream scoop, shape the mince mixture into walnut size pieces and place on a baking tray
4. When the oven is heated, place the baking tray in the oven and cook for 10-12 minutes
5. For the sauce, heat the oil in a heavy saucepan
6. Add the onion and cover with a lid, allowing the onion to cook until soft (for about 5 minutes)
7. Add the garlic (and chilli) and cook for another two minutes
8. Add the flour and allow to cook for a minute
9. Add the stock in three stages, making sure to blend it with the flour, onion and garlic mix
10. Blend in the tomato puree and then sprinkle in the herbs
11. After adding the tins of tomatoes to the mix, season with salt and black pepper
12. Allow to simmer
13. Place in a blender and blitz for about one minute until smooth
14. Return to the pot and heat through
15. Add the meatballs and cover with the sauce
16. Place the lid on the saucepan and allow to simmer for 10 minutes
17. Serve with spaghetti or pasta shapes of your choice and a big handle of grated cheese
18. And sing…!


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Beef, Curry

Beef Curry with no substitutions!

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Curry? While a firm favourite with many, it doesn’t seem ‘cultured’ enough for a dinner party. That’s what I thought but this recipe I tweaked from Hardeep Singh Kohli’s ‘Oxtail Curry’ is always well received. From the cook’s point of view, it’s perfect. Yes, there’s a bit of preparation and cooking at the start but once it’s in the oven, there’s about two hours free until serving. The dish is so rich, all that’s needed is Naan Bread or plain Basmati Rice.

What’s so good about this recipe? For me, it’s the spicing. When I read the recipe first, I found the measures a bit daunting. Everything else is a teaspoon of this and a half teaspoon of that where as this recipe calls for more robust flavouring. It all makes for a deliciously, deep-flavoured sauce. And there’s something about the spices chosen too – they all tend to be larder essentials so there’s no sourcing anything unusual in far away Asian Markets.

Meat? I made the original recipe with oxtail and it was totally sublime. Getting good quality, meaty and affordable, oxtail, however, is not always possible so I tried this with rib steak and it worked perfectly. This cut of steak is great for slow cooking and absorbs the flavour more effectively than other cuts.

The recipe is great as it is. I couldn’t resist experimenting but when I did, it never turned out as nice as the original. The sauce is very rich so I thought maybe I would use tinned tomatoes instead of passata to make it lighter. What a mistake! It was nice but it was not half as nice as when passata is used. I learnt my recipe.

This is Beef Curry with no substitutions!

Other praise for this recipe? Apart from the fact that it is all cooked in the same heavy casserole dish, it is gluten free, nut free and dairy free. Oh, and it’s even better the next day!


Beef Curry

2lbs rib steak, cut in equal chunks
4 tablespoons sunflower oil
1 tablespoon cumin seeds
2 star anise
4 cardamon pods, lightly bruised with the back of a knife
5 peppercorns
4 large red onions, finely chopped
5 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 chilli, finely chopped (preferably a Scotch Bonnet)
1.5 inch piece ginger, grated
½ orange, 3 strips of pared zest and the juice
1 tablespoon tomato puree
1 tablespoon turmeric
1 tablespoon garam masala
1 tablespoon ground coriander
11 fluid ounces passata
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 bay leaves
Serve with plain boiled Basmati rice

1. Preheat the oven to 180C
2. Chop the onions, garlic and chilli as finely as possible
3. Grate the ginger
4. Heat the oil to a medium heat in a heavy casserole dish. Add the cumin seeds and allow to sizzle for a minute (be careful not to let them burn)
5. Add the star anise, cardamon pods and peppercorns, cooking for one minute
6. Reducing the heat, add the onion, ginger, chilli and garlic and cook until the onions start to become soft (about ten minutes)
7. Add the orange zest and continue to cook the onions for another ten minutes (or until they look carmelised)
8. Add the tomato puree and cook for 2 minutes
9. Add in the turmeric, garam masala and ground coriander and stir through the mix. At this point, add salt and ground black pepper (more can be added at the end)
10. Increasing the heat, add the meat chunks. Cook for about 3 minutes to brown the pieces
11. Add the passata and bring to a simmer. Include the bay leaves too
12. Place the lid on the casserole dish and ransfer to the oven, reducing the heat to 150C after about 10 minutes. Cook for one hour
13. Stir in the orange juice and allow to cook for another 30 minutes
14. Take the dish out and leave covered for another 20-30 minutes while the plain Basmati rice is cooking

Beef, Family Stories and Food, Goulash, Goulash with Issues

Goulash with issues…

From toddler to post-teen, I spent oodles and oodles of time in Spain. No – to my shame – I never mastered the language and no, I never developed an ability to tan. Pale Irish skin and auburn hair meant the most I could manage was a light beige after months (and months) in the sun. I resented my parents so much – I was convinced that if I could only go to the local caravan park like some of my pals I would be golden brown…

Why all this time on the Costa? Many of Dad’s business interests were in the area. Well, in the area is stretching the imagination. If he brought us with him, it meant wrenching us away from our house on the beach, strapping us into the car, ordering us not to speak to one another (as one word could always erupt into a fight) and making us endure what has never been surpassed as ‘the’ most excruciating journey. Miles and miles travelled in a hot car with no air conditioning in sweltering heat with a child (me) who got car sick on a level only equalled by the the girl in the Exorcist.

This was no ordinary trip. It involved dirt tracks and winding around hairpin bends until we reached the top of a mountain. There we would alight from a hot car into blistering heat with no breeze and among us, a child (me) who reeked of  stale ‘parmesan’. Happy days – not!

Spanish food is still a firm favourite but Spain is also where I was first introduced to Goulash. Near where we lived was a restaurant called ‘El Conejo Loco’ (the mad rabbit) run by a Hungarian beauty and her frequently inebriated Spanish husband. There were many heated exchanges between the two and pots full of drama. To a child, it seemed funny but when I look back, we dined regularly in the middle of a never-ending domestic war. She would hold the balance, smile at the guests while he swiped bottles of brandy and reverted back into the kitchen where he would roar demands, laugh loudly and cook brilliantly. Except for one dish. That was her domain. She made Goulash like her mother made and it was divine.

While others gazed at perfectly cooked Gambas (and they stared back with their beedy little eyes), I would tuck into a plate of Goulash served with noodles and a dollop of sour cream. It was simply the best thing ever. I always wish I had got the recipe but I was precocious enough without stalking elders to ask for recipes too.

Now, when winter sets in, Goulash is made and served exactly as all those years ago. It will never equal that lady’s but it is definitely a firm favourite in our home. It is meant to contain beer but I leave it out – mainly because I like to drink rather than eat the stuff! Here’s the recipe I cook and it is one of those wonderful dishes which indeed tastes better the day after.



1½ lb rib steak, cubed
3 level tablespoons flour
2 medium onions, peeled and sliced
1 red pepper, seeds removed and sliced
2 level teaspoons Paprika
3 level tablespoons good quality tomato puree
Nutmeg, a pinch freshly grated
Salt and pepper
2 ounces plain flour
½ pint beef stock
1 tin chopped tomatoes
¼ pint of ale (optional)
1 Bouquet Garni
Oil for frying

1. Pre-heat the oven at 160c
2. Place the 3 tablespoons of flour on a plate. Season with salt and pepper
3. Toss the beef pieces in the flour
4. Fry the onion and pepper in the oil until soft for about 3-4 minutes
5. Add the meat and fry for about five minutes until golden brown
6. Add the paprika and fry for another minute
7. Reduce the heat
8. Add the tomato puree, nutmeg and flour and cook for another couple of minutes
9. When the flour is cooked, gently add the stock and mix, making sure to eliminate any lumps
10. Add the tin of tomatoes
11. Season with salt and pepper
12. Transfer to a casserole dish
13. Add Bouquet Garni
14. Cook slowly for about 1½ hours
15. Remove the Bouquet Garni and add the beer
16. Leave stand for about 15 minutes
17. Serve with noodles and sour cream. Alternatively, it can be served with mashed potato.