Well that was an unexpected month away from blogging! I came down with the Christmas cold this year! It is usually my husband gets bit poorly on festive days, but on the evening of the 25th I felt very floppy and lethargic... and I knew it wasn't just the season catching up with me! This cold really took it out of me. I am so thankful that my husband was off work for a fortnight and spent it looking after everything, including me. And I am very thankful that, although the children seem to be getting a wee round of coughs and lethargy, that each of them are getting over it in a couple of days each.
Finally, I am back to my usual self - fortified with vitamins and making lovely warm comfort food for us all again.
On Sundays in our house, the traditional weekly roast is paid homage. In a world of choice, it is nice to have a straight-forward gravied protein, veg and potatoes meal. The protein is occasionally a Cheatin' roast, but not always for variation and cost reasons. It sometimes appears as a plate pie, sometimes as a stew or casserole. This is a great version which works with whatever booze you want to slosh in for flavour. It is based on a real Braising Steak recipe I used to watch my Nanna make on Wednesdays; the steak strips in this end up just as tender as I remember hers to be. It can be slow cooked as well as done in the oven, but I do somehow prefer the texture of an oven stew if we can get away with baking it. I justify it by baking a pudding on a Sunday too as a treat - we had an amazing pear cake with custard after this.
Our favourite flavours for varying the following basic recipe are
Red or White Wine
Dark Beer/Stout and Mustard
Brandy and Prune
Whisky (if using whisky, definitely replace a couple of carrots with swede.)
Gin with Blackberry or Hedgerow Berries and Bay
The basic recipe with the variations goes like this:
1 pack of Fry's steak strips (available at Holland and Barratt at approx. same cost as beefsteak)
4 carrots, peeled and sliced (can replace 2 of these with diced swede)
4 onions, peeled and sliced
100ml cold water
1 heaped tbsp plain flour
2 tbsp dark soy sauce
2 tbsp tomato puree
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
A slosh (1-2 tbsp) of alcohol: this can be white or red wines, dark beer or stout (in which case add 2 tsp mustard) , brandy (+ chopped prunes) or whisky or gin (if using gin, a splodge of blackberry or hedgerow preserve i.e. chutney or jam, goes nicely too + a bay leaf to the dish.)
400ml hot water from the kettle
- Put the steak strips, carrot and onions (+prunes, if using brandy) in a casserole dish.
- Mix the cold water, soy sauce, tomato puree, pepper and alcohol (+ mustard if using dark beer/stout or the berry preserve if using gin) into the flour to make a smooth paste.
- Stir the hot water into the flour paste.
- Pour the liquid into the casserole dish (tuck a bay leaf in if using gin and berry preserve.)
- Cover with a lid or foil.
- Bake at 180C for 1 hour.
Costs approximately £3.88 for the basic stew (not including alcohol or additions)
Costings from Asda and Goodness Direct for the steak (also available at Holland and Barratt instore) as accessed 22/01/2015