Beef up your salad the Thai way!


A Perfect Summer Lunch Dish Bursting with Zingy Flavours!


INGREDIENTS – Enough for 5 to 6 people for lunch

450 gm medium noodles

Splash of sesame oil

2 rump or sirloin steaks

1 tbsp olive oil

2 carrots grated

Good handful of radishes – about 200 gm – topped tailed and thinly sliced

1 cucumber, ribboned – I use a potato peeler- don’t go as far as the seeds!

2 gem lettuces – or any good small lettuce type – cut into wedges

4 spring onions finely sliced

1 tbsp sesame seeds lightly toasted in a hot pan

Small bunch of fresh coriander (cilantro) chopped

Handful of fresh mint leaves torn

1 red chilli deseeded and thinly sliced


Juice of two limes

1 and a half tbsp of sesame oil

1 tbsp of sugar

1 tbsp soy sauce

1 tbsp of fish sauce – don’t worry if you don’t have any – just use more soy sauce


Cook the noodles, remove from heat and toss in sesame oil. Leave to cool.

Make the dressing – mix all the ingredients together – adjust to your liking.

Brush steaks with olive oil, heat a frying pan or griddle, and cook the steaks for 2 minutes each side for rare or 3 minutes for a more medium rare look. Sesame well with sea salt and black pepper and leave to one side to rest.

Put the carrots, radishes, cucumber into a large pan or bowl – I used a large roasting tray and mix. Add the lettuce, spring onions, chilli and the noodles and toss gently. 

Slice the beef thinly and add to the mix. Add the sesame seeds and fresh herbs and toss gently. Then, just before serving, pour over the dressing, and toss again lightly.

This proved immensely popular with my family and there was absolutely zilch left at the end – a very good sign.

Fun to make too!

Easy Beef and Dumpling Casserole


Not only is this dish simple to assemble, it ticks every box for a sour, dull, dank, rainy day in need of serious cheering up on the food front! I made it yesterday for a late lunch. Cooked for 4 of us and there is still a bowl left over for a late night something later on!



1 kg beef cubed – chuck steak is great – skirt too – just ask your butcher

Olive oil

8 tulip shallots peeled and roughly chopped (or you could use 3 medium sized onions)

1 tbsp plain flour

900 ml good beef stock

200 ml beer – I used Guinness

Heaped tsp of dried thyme or good sprig of the fresh stuff

2 bay leaves

1 large clove of garlic, peeled and crushed

1 tbsp of tomato puree

Salt and black pepper


Heat oven to 140c,

Add a good glug of oil to a large frying pan and when hot add the beef. Stir round til browned all over. Remove and place in a large casserole dish – one with a lid. Add the onions to the frying pan and fry until the onions soften. Add them to the beef and then add the flour. Put over a low heat whilst you stir in the flour.

Add the thyme, bay leaves, garlic and a swizzle of salt and a good grind of black pepper. Add the stock and beer, stir and add the tomato puree – you can use a good brand tomato sauce instead if you wish.

Once it is starting to simmer – put the lid on and pop in the preheated oven for 2 hours and ten minutes. 

Now make the dumplings – 

You will need 100 gm of self-raising flour and 50 gm of suet – I use Atora – love the funky 60s retro box!

Mix the flour and suet together in a bowl, add a good pinch of salt and then around 5 table spoons of cold water. Mix it together until you get a good consistency and no flour is left in the bowl. Wash your hands and then make 8 golf ball size dumplings.

Put to one side. When the timer goes for the beef, remove the lid and gently place in the dumplings – well spaced out – pop lid back on and return to the oven for twenty minutes.

I served the casserole  with sweet mashed potato, buttered with a little cumin. I also had steamed kale and new potatoes in butter and coriander. It was a marvellous combination of flavours.

As with so many recipes this is one you can tinker with to your heart’s desire – you could use half beer half stock – even all beer if you wished! You could add a little pureed spinach to your dumpling mix – the possibilities are endless.


IMG_5424 This is funky – admit it !

A Meaty Chilli Thriller!


Beef Pork and Chorizo Chilli

Chilli is an evocative word – just like this painting of Bonnie Lalley‘s – it conjures up warmth, spice, something primeval and yet oddly comforting – a little like watching a horror movie – you know you shouldn’t watch but you do – it is a no holds barred experience – a recipe not to undercut or do on the cheap, a no corner cutter – you need to take the cushion away from your face and go in eyes wide open – there may be scary moments ahead – especially if you are free and easy with the chillies – but hang on in there – the ride will be worth it.

I have put this out there before – but I want to remind you all once again that this is a serious dish – to treat with respect and to meet the meat head on.


I saw Bonnie’s painting and I knew I had to return again to the thriller that is the Full Meat Chilli Chiller!


1kg minced beef
500 gm diced shoulder pork
250 gm chorizo sliced into chunks
500 gm borlotti beans or kidney beans or a mix of both
Olive oil
2 large onions chopped
3 green chillies deseeded and chopped
2 tbsp white wine vinegar
2 tsps dark brown sugar
2 400gm tins of good chopped tomatoes
250 ml beef stock
1 cinnamon stick
2 bay leaves
Some dried oregano and thyme
3 tbsp of hot chilli powder
Black pepper
Fresh coriander

Soured cream to serve

Heat oil in large pan. Brown all meats in batches. Transfer to a large stock pot or casserole dish. Add more oil. Sweat onions on a slightly lower heat until a little brown. Add to meat along with all other ingredients except the beans and coriander.

Bring to the boil and simmer gently. Cook for at least an hour – I usually leave it for at least an hour and a half. No lid!

Add the beans for last twenty minutes. Taste – adjust seasoning – maybe just black pepper – I have never had to add salt. Add the roughly chopped coriander just before serving and stir through.

Serve with rice – I put a little turmeric in mine. And a pot of soured cream. Or you could serve with naan bread or tacos or crusty bread – or even a baked potato.

This is a demon of a dish – a veritable feast of flavours. Not for the faint hearted. 

One for the connoisseur of heat and meat.


Catching my breath…


It has been a strange and hectic couple of weeks as the end of term approached. Busy wasn’t even close. Anyway, my feet are now just touching the floor and I have spent the last few days trying to be lazy – but it takes me a while to throw off work mode – still, I have enjoyed some very nice glasses of various wines and some simple but delicious meals including the cold rare roast beef sliced from the previous days topside joint cooked Brazilian style – see recipe from a few blog posts ago…and this time I had it with some simple home made pan fried chips, pepper sauce and a light salad.

The day before we had enjoyed the beef off the barbecue with lots of salads and a simple ratatouille I cooked up – using just pan fried cubed aubergine, home grown cubed courgette, shallots, san marzano tomatoes pan fried and lots of fresh basil and oregano – a dash of red wine vinegar and a splash of olive oil with seasoning.


And it is unctuous cold the next day too!

I had to have several drinks to get per the shock of watching Brazil get trounced by Germany 7-1. I thought it was something I’d eaten!

I also have sent a few hours with a guy who is hot into SEO stuff and I think I learnt something We will see! I now have time to focus on writing some posts inspired by Bonnie Lalley‘s art work and on our proposed book. A week to relax now, several folk round for lunches and sleep overs and then on the 20th we are off to Valencia…can’t wait!

A stunning French red to start the holidays...

A stunning French red to start the holidays…

An Italian fizz to fire me into the festivities of July!

An Italian fizz to fire me into the festivities of July!

Home made ratatouille

Home made ratatouille

A Catalan beauty that saw me through the despondency of Germany beating brazil.

A Catalan beauty that saw me through the despondency of Germany beating brazil.

Beef at its best...

Beef at its best…

Brazilian Barbecued Beef….


Brazilian Barbecued Beef....

This is one of the best ways there is to cook and eat beef…believe me. It is easy to do, saves on washing up and it is quick! Well, relatively! Perfect for a barbecue on a World Cup night. In Brazil this is a typical way to cook beef.

Get a good piece of silverside of beef (perfect for this dish as it is inexpensive and takes the heat perfectly – ending up as tender as can be) with no fat on. Rub it all over in salt. Put your barbecue on and let the coals get to white heat. Put the beef onto the grill and treat like a large sausage! Keep turning it over for half an hour. You will get a few flames at first but it will soon calm down. After 30 minutes of turning you will end up with a wonderfully dark crusted piece of meat. Take it to one side on a board and carve off the crispy bits and serve straight away.


Pop the joint that remains back on to the barbecue and continue turning as it cooks. This is a meal to savour and not rush – eating in a series of stages.


The next round the pieces sliced off after about 10 minutes will be beautifully medium rare. Then cut the remaining joint into steak size slices and place back on the barbecue for a further 10 minutes whilst you enjoy the meat you’ve just carved.


I served it with buttered coriander new potatoes and lamb’s lettuce (mâché).

This is such an economical and gloriously tasty way to eat beef. The Brazilians have got it wrapped. Perfect. My son, the steak aficionado in our house, announced that this was probably the best way he has ever eaten beef.

I have to agree with him. Magical.

Onglet steak….a real favourite of mine


Onglet steak....a real favourite of mine

Nothing else to say really…the pic says it all. I enjoyed this fab steak at Brasserie Blanc in Winchester earlier this week. It simply melted in the mouth – cooked rare, or at the very most, medium rare with a pepper corn sauce on the side it is a delectable delight and incredibly tender.

If you are ever in Winchester – you must visit this restaurant. It is light, stylish and you feel as if you are deep in French territory. Marvellously polite and unobtrusive staff….a wine list to die for – the Côtes de Bourg was full of velveteen finesse. A perfect accompaniment to the steak.

Raymond Blanc describes this restaurant thus: ‘ When you are lucky enough to open a restaurant in a city as beautiful as Winchester, it is your duty to make sure you don’t detract from it. The two Georgian shops on Jewry Street fit the bill. A fantastic frontage lovingly restored. To my absolute delight we discovered that one of the shops had been a butchers in a previous life and that one of the tiled walls remained somewhat intact, part of the wall depicts a cow that I have named Clementine. The Brasserie is a bit of a rabbit warren with two balconies and a patio, dining rooms over two floors, a small private room with its own balcony and an open kitchen on the first floor. It means we have many different little Brasseries each with a slightly different atmosphere.’

Onglet comes from the hanging flank of the cow and is known as, unsurprisingly, ‘hanger steak’ in the U.S. and where I am from we call it ‘skirt’..the Italians call it ‘lombatello‘ and the Spanish ‘solomillo de pulmón‘.

Whatever you call it, this is a remarkable cut – inexpensive and highly regarded for its immense flavour.

I love it!

Bresaola…make your own!


Bresaola…make your own!

When I first set eyes on this latest painting from the wonderful Bonnie Lalley, I was immediately reminded that I had not made any of my own bresaola for over two years! Not good. The time is ripe for making another – thank you for the prompt, Bonnie! Lemon and beef are such an Italian pairing – they squidge a shot or two of lemon over their carpaccio and their bresaola at will. And basil and lemon are seemingly ever present in any mediterranean kitchen – as essential for summer cooking as a bucket and spade are for a trip to the beach!

Bresaola is an air dried beef, aged traditionally for two to three months. I always use topside – it is possibly the best thing for this cut I reckon. You could use silverside too if you cannot get hold of a piece of topside.

The word Bresaola (formerly Brazaola, Brisaola or Bresavola) has uncertain origins.
Its etymology can be found in words like “brasa” (embers) or “brisa“: “brasa” were braziers used to dry air in the rooms used for seasoning process while the second one, brisa, is a dialect word for “salting”. It comes from a valley called Valtellina in the Northern Italian Alps in the Lombardy region. There are of course similar products around the world – chipped beef in the States, cecina in Spain, dendeng from Indonesia and brési from France.

Bresaola can be traced back to the 14th century in Italy and like so many cured meats, it was mostly farmers and their families who ate it – it was very much a way of simply preserving meat and it only escaped from Italy in the 19th century, first being exported to Switzerland, just across the border. It seems to be available in lots of places now, though I assure you, supermarket bresaola is nothing compared to those you can buy in Italy – or off a deli counter here in the UK. or indeed to your own home made version!

It is served mostly as an antipasti – or with salads – and is often seen added at the last moment to the magnificent pizzas they serve in the Piazza Navona in Rome, with large curly shavings of parmesan and a handful of fresh green glimmering rocket, drizzled with olive oil and lemon juice.
(Now my mouth is watering-enough)

Right, my home cured bresaola is based on Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s version from his magnificent tome simply entitled, ‘Meat‘.

You will need the following:
3-4kg joint of topside beef

Then for the marinade:
1kg sea salt
12 sprigs of rosemary
20 cloves
4 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
1 tbsp black peppercorns
2 tsps of dried chilli flakes
5 strips of orange zest and 5 of lemon
1 bottle of a decent red wine

Mix together all the ingredients in a non metallic container that will hold the joint comfortably – indeed snugly. Add the meat and turn over to coat it well. Cover and leave in a cool place – a fridge will do if you have one large enough – otherwise an out house is fine. It needs to stay there for 5 days – but twice a day turn the joint over. After 5 days, remove the joint and pat dry with a clean tea towel. Wrap it in a double layer of muslin cloth, tie up with string and hang it in a dry but cool and draughty area, such as an outbuilding or covered porch. Let it hang for at least 10 days. 15 would be even better. You will feel that it has become hard to the touch. Wonderful!

Trim before serving. Take away the outer 5mm from the bit you are going to slice. Slice very thinly across the grain of the meat. It will be browner on the outside than the centre – that is as it should be. It can be hung in a cool place for a month and used as and when you need it. If the weather gets too warm you could pop it in the fridge. Always keep it wrapped in the muslin. Never cling film! It needs to breathe. That is why the stuff you buy from the supermarket in clear air tight plastic trays needs to be opened at least an hour before you serve it.

I made my first home cured bresaola one with my daughter, Hannah, and she loved the whole process. It is a great thing to do – fun indeed for all the family! And richly rewarding!



Anniversary rib of beef


Anniversary rib of beef

I started this blog a year ago today, so it is fitting that i celebrated the event, and indeed Mother’s Day, with a magnificent 2kg rib of beef from Parsonage Farm. Thank you to all who follow and who have tuned in over the last 12 months.

I can only ask you to use your imagination with this – it was a fabulous piece – the flavour and texture were second to none. The marbled fat tasted as sweet and unctuous as you could wish for and the meat melted in the mouth. I served it with cavolo nero steamed, roasted potatoes with thyme and garlic and the ever necessary home made Yorkshire puds courtesy of my wife! (She has a way with them that I cannot replicate!)

The beef was rubbed in oil and seasoned then laid on a bed of sliced onions, popped in a preheated oven at 230c for 30 minutes, then down to 160c for 1 hour. Key element is to let the joint rest, which I did for around 45 minutes whilst the spuds roasted and the puds rose.

All washed down with a marvellous Malbec – my favourite grape. Happy Mother’s Day to all you mums out there and a Happy Anniversary to Alfredo’s too!



Peppered Shin Beef in Red Wine


Peppered Shin Beef in Red Wine

This was last night’s supper. The shin beef was from those marvellous people at Parsonage Farm in Upton – please visit their website – Sarah and John Mills are two of the nicest farmers you could meet – they also butcher their own meat and have also moved into making their own salamis! They know their stuff. This dish shows shin beef at its very best – it is such a marvellous cut and highly underrated. Yes, it takes time to cook, but time well spent. I put this together in about 20 minutes and then popped it in the oven and went out for the day. I came home to the most marvellous aromas – what a welcome!

Preheat the oven to 150c. For 6 folk I used a kilo of shin, cut into large chunks. I used a heavy round casserole dish with a lid. I arranged half the beef on the bottom – added 5 whole peeled cloves of garlic, two sprigs of rosemary and 3 or 4 good grinds of black pepper. Then I popped the rest of the beef on top, plus 5 more cloves and more rosemary and more black pepper.


Then add a whole bottle of a good red, preferably Italian. Add 2 bay leaves.

Pop the lid on and bring to a gentle boil on the hob. Then place in the centre of the oven for at least 6 hours. When it is ready check the seasoning – I added just a whisper of sea salt and a light drizzle of love oil. Then I removed the beef with a slotted spoon and broke it up gently with 2 forks – it drifts part in the most dreamy fashion. I served it with steamed cauliflower and baby new pots with a taleggio and cream sauce.

This is beef at its best. Full of rich dark flavours that haunt the tastebuds and make them crave more!

Winter’s warming glory…


Winter's warming glory...

Often the simplest things in life are the most beautiful. The things we take for granted – golden leaves, a sparrow’s song, ripening berries peeping through hedgerows , snow drops peeking out from under the soil where they have slept peacefully during the dark drear months of winter.

And so it is with food – often food stuffs we overlook or turn our nose up at can provide delectable surprises. Inexpensive and warming when the wet weather whirls its way through our world.

Take the humble tin of corned beef. I loathed it as a child – all my sandwiches on school trips seemed to contain nothing else but slabs of it  and I found it hard to swallow. I remember my Granddad telling me tales of WW1 and life in the trenches when frequently the only dish on offer was tinned ‘bully beef’ as he called it. Sounded grim!

The stuff sold in cans gets its name from the corns, or grains of salt, that are used to preserve it. The beef is chopped up and preserved with salt – sometimes it was brine – and canned with beef fat and jelly. When I was young there seemed to be too much of the jelly for my liking! Today most of the corned beef in cans  comes from Uruguay or Brazil.

It was first mentioned in 1621 in a recipe of one Robert Burton in his ‘Anatomy of Melancholy‘ -clearly he too had been getting corned beef sandwiches too often in his packed lunch!

Anyway, he writes ‘ Beef…corned, young of an Ox.’ He also mentions that you could get corned pork . Corned beef in many parts of the world refers to salt beef – a wonderful cut from the brisket – we used to eat a lot of it when we lived in New Zealand. Corned beef in the UK means the stuff that comes in those trade mark rectangular cans with the pesky winding key opener.

The Irish eat a lot of it apparently, especially on St Patrick’s Day – a combination of corned beef heated through with cooked cabbage. And of course there is the traditional corned beef hash which improved my opinion of the stuff when my folks made this stew in my early teens. Great with lashings of brown sauce. Corned beef also gets used in lots of pasties sold in the chains of high street bakers.

But, my favourite way of eating it – and I have made this for many a long year, going back to my thrifty student days, is a Corned Beef Chilli.

I cannot explain how good this dish is – and I know some folk out there will be grimacing or even switching to another blog at this point – which is a pity – because, as I said to begin with – the simplest and often the cheapest dishes are the best. Right, assuming you are all still with me….! The recipe!

For 4

1 can of corned beef chopped into chunks.
1 red onion chopped
1 clove of garlic chopped
3 chillies deseeded and chopped – I use 2 red and 1 green
2 x 400gm chopped tinned tomatoes
1 tablespoon of cumin seeds
A bunch of fresh coriander (cilantro)

500 gm rigatoni pasta (for some odd reason, it goes far better with pasta than rice – believe me.

In a frying pan, heat some olive oil and pan fry the onions, garlic, chillies, and cumin seeds.


Let the onions soften, then add the tinned tomatoes and bring to a good simmer. Cook for about 20 minutes on a low heat.

Then add the corned beef and stir around gently. Now add three quarters of the bunch of coriander chopped. Stir again. Let it simmer whilst you cook your pasta. It can happily sit there for another 40 minutes or so, getting thicker and hotter.

Serve the pasta in bowls and spoon over the corned beef chilli. Add a sprinkle of chopped coriander to each bowl.

It is like no other chilli you will have tasted and everyone for whom I have cooked it has been amazed at the flavour and deliciousness of this dish.

Thanks, Bonnie, for the inspiration. A wonderful painting to go with a wonderful winter warmer of a meal!