Quick and Tasty Beef Koftas

Looking for a winning dish for dinner?

Cooked beef koftas

In that case, you should know that these beef koftas are almost effortless to whip up; the bulk of the time it takes to make them is actually the 30 minutes chilling time. Winner.

They don’t seem that effortless to the people eating them, who will demonstrate their appreciation of your ‘slaving’ over dinner by showering you with attention and affection.  Win, win.

They’ll probably do the washing up too.  Win, win, win.

Of course, they taste amazing too.  Win, win, win, win.

Well, would you look at that!  It would appear that the beef koftas are quadruple winners!  There’s clearly no need for you to continue your search for a dinner dish, which is happy news, because by now you must be very hungry.  I shall delay you no longer and will proceed to tell you how to make this scrumptious meal…

Kofta ingredients

Serves 3-6 people, depending on accompanying dishes

Ingredients
500g minced beef
1 onion, chopped
1-2 cloves garlic, crushed
2-4 green chillies, finely chopped
¾ teaspoon ground coriander
¾ teaspoon ground cumin
1 egg
a handful of fresh coriander leaves, chopped
1 teaspoon harissa paste (If I’d had harissa paste in the stores I’d have used it, and the dish would have benefited from it, so I’ve included it here)
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
12 wooden skewers
Music

Done your onion and chilli chopping?  Ok then, let’s get this show on the road…

Mix ingredients by hand

Throw everything (apart from the skewers) into a bowl and use your hands to mix well.

Shape onto skewers

Divide the mix into 12 rough balls then form into oval shapes on the wooden skewers (or make into patties if you don’t have any skewers).

Cover and chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.

Beef koftas

Heat a lightly oiled griddle or grill and cook for around 8-12 minutes on a medium to high heat, turning to ensure they’re browned all over.

Job’s a good ‘un!

Beef koftas with Mediterranean dips

Served here with a minty cucumber sauce*, pitta bread and a selection of Mediterranean dips*.

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* Recipes to follow shortly 🙂

Thai Style Meatballs with Spicy Peanut Sauce

Thai style meatballs on noodles

Fragrantly spiced meatballs on a bed of noodles, smothered in a creamy but fiery peanut sauce: a quick, easy and very tasty meal, ideal for mid-week when cooking motivation is fading and take-out food is looking appealing.  Way better than ordering in, and not that much more effort.

meatball ingredientsIngredients

For the meatballs
500g minced meat (I used beef here but go with what you like)
4-5 spring onions, finely chopped
1 red chilli, de-seeded and finely chopped
1 dessert spoon fresh ginger root, grated
½ lime – zest and juice
A small handful of fresh coriander leaves, finely chopped
1 egg

curry paste ingredientsFor the sauce
1 tin coconut milk
2-3 tablespoons peanut butter – smooth or crunchy, as is your desire

For the curry paste
6-7 shallots
3-4 garlic cloves
3-4 red chillies
1 teaspoon peppercorns – crushed
½ teaspoon ground coriander
½ teaspoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon fish sauce (nam pla)
½ lemon – zest only
½ lime – zest and juice
A handful of fresh coriander leaves

A couple of tablespoons of oil for frying

Noodles or rice to serve

Music

You’ll need a plate or tray for putting the rolled meatballs on – one that will fit in your fridge.  Got one?  Grand!

all the meatball ingredients in a bowl

Put all the meatball ingredients into a bowl and, using your hands, mix together.

roll into balls

Shape into 16-20 small meatballs and chill in the fridge for about 20 minutes (or 10 in the freezer, but don’t forget about them!)

prepared curry paste ingredients

Put all the curry paste ingredients into a food processor.  Or you can use a pestle and mortar – it brings out more oils, and therefore flavours, but my word do you have to work for them!

ground to a paste

Grind to a thick paste.

Coconut milk

Heat around a tablespoon of oil in a saucepan until it reaches sizzling point then add your curry paste.  Cook, stirring, for a few minutes then add coconut milk.  Bring to a simmer.

Peanut butter

Stir in 2-3 tablespoons of peanut butter and continue to heat until sauce has thickened.  You may need to use a hand whisk to bring together the oils.  Keep warm on a low heat while you fry up your meatballs; stir occasionally to keep it from sticking.

Thai style meatballs with spicy peanut sauce

Heat a few tablespoons of oil in a frying pan and cook the meatballs until they’re evenly browned all over and piping hot in the middle.

Arrange meatballs on noodles or rice, pour over peanut sauce and finish with a sprinkling of chopped spring onion.

Ta da!  Dinner’s done!

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Rich and Hearty Beef Casserole

When you wake up in the morning and the world looks like this, you need something hot, substantial and nurturing on the menu for dinner.

Rich beef casserole served with vegetable bake and rosemary roast potatoes

I think you’d be hard pushed to find something more fitting to that description than this beef casserole – chunks of beef and baby button mushrooms in a meaty, onion rich gravy – real heart-cockle warming stuff.  Bear in mind, of course, it doesn’t have to be snowing in order for you to have it for dinner 😉

To get the very best from the beef this wine infused dish is cooked low and slow in the oven, allowing the meat to gently relax and get to know its fellow ingredients – it is by no means an ‘in a hurry’ recipe.  The good news is that although it takes 4 hours to cook, it only takes about 20 minutes to prepare and needs to be tended only once during the cooking time (and then once more just before serving).

Ideally, it’s cooked in a pan or dish that can go from hob to oven (and back again), that way you don’t lose a scrap of flavour.  Ideal for the washing up situation too.

Rich beef casserole

To my mind all this makes it an excellent dinner for a weekend/day off: a stupendously good meal with just enough preparation and attention required that you can justifiably say you made an effort, but plenty of ‘hands off time’ in which to do weekendy/day off-ish things.

As a bonus, your house gradually fills with the drool inducing, appetite stimulating aromas of herbs and garlic and meat and wine – so good.  By the time it’s ready, believe me, so are you!

Serves 3-4 if presented with side dishes
Serves 2 if eaten with nothing but thickly buttered crusty bread

Ingredients
400g diced beef braising steak
4-5 rashers of streaky bacon, each cut into about 6 pieces (use scissors – so much easier than a knife 😉 )
1 onion, diced
2-3 cloves garlic, crushed
3-4 sticks of celery, diced (if they have leaves on, chop those up and throw them in too…they’re full of flavour)
12-14 shallots, peeled
Several tablespoons of olive oil
2 beef stockpots/stock cubes
1 mini bottle (about 200ml) red wine
800ml water
2-3 heaped teaspoons cornflour, in a mug or small jug, mixed to a paste with a little cold water
200g button mushrooms, cleaned but left whole
1 bay leaf
A sprig of thyme
Freshly ground black pepper
Music

Ok, have you got everything together and done your prep?  Let’s go then…

Preheat the oven to gas mark 2/300°F/150°C

cubed beef

With the heat reasonably high, heat 1 or 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a casserole dish or oven safe pan and brown the beef, a few pieces at a time; remove cooked pieces from the pan and set to one side.

browned shallots

If necessary add another tablespoon of olive oil to the pan, allow it to heat, then quickly brown your shallots and bacon.  Remove from pan and set to one side.

crushed garlic, diced onion and celery

Having cooked off some of the bacon fat it’s unlikely you’ll need more oil in the pan, but add a little if you need to and allow it to heat up.  Now add the celery, onions and garlic and cook until just starting to brown.

Return the meat to the pan.

wine and stockpots

Add the red wine and stir well, making sure you scrape any  gorgeous, caramelised brown bits off the bottom of the pan.

bay leaf and thyme

Add water, stockpots, bay leaf and thyme and bring to simmering point.

Put the lid on the pan and put it in the oven.

Set a timer for 3 hours.

after 3 hours

After 3 hours retrieve your casserole from the oven.

mushrooms

Add bacon, onions and mushrooms, and a little more water if you think it’s going to dry out too much over the next hour.  Don’t add too much though, you’ll dilute the flavours.

Put the lid back on and put the pan back in the oven.

Set a timer for 1 hour.

transfer to stove top to thicken

After 1 hour take the pan from the oven and put it back on the hob on a medium heat.  Fish out the thyme twig and the bay leaf and discard.

add cornflour

Ladle a little of the gravy into the mug containing the cornflour paste, stirring to mix well.

Pour the liquid back into your pan and cook, stirring continuously, until gravy has thickened.

Rich beef casserole with veg bake and rosemary roast potatoes

Serve with whatever you fancy…mashed potato and green beans…or tiny boiled potatoes, carrots and broccoli…or baked potatoes and mange tout…or…

Shown here with rosemary roast potatoes and cheese topped vegetable bake.

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BBQ Beef & Spit Roast Chickens

The SpitExciting times in the Renegade household this weekend – Petit Man, Mme. E and Medieval came round and we had our first test run of this bad boy, in preparation for Mum and Little M’s upcoming birthday fête.

Three Sunday roastsAlthough on the day we’ll be cooking a suckling pig, for the time being we contented ourselves with a couple of chickens and a slab of beef.

The chicken on the left had truffle pesto under the skin, and the one to the right a BBQ sauce that I’m working on.

Truffle pestoThe truffle pesto idea was an absolute winner – it melted under the skin, basting the chicken as it rotated and cooked, creating a juicy, succulent chicken with salty, crispy skin.  Doing that again!

The BBQ sauce is still not quite right quite right, but a recipe’s slowly emerging from the trials.  The first flavour burst is grand but something’s missing in the depth of the flavours…it doesn’t ‘continue’ in the mouth as it should (does that even make sense to anyone but me?!)  I’ve a few ideas on how to improve this – adding a couple of ingredients, increasing one or two existing ones, preparing some of them differently – when I feel I’ve succeeded, I’ll post 🙂

Crisp and tasty on the outsideMedieval created a rub for the beef, using white and black pepper, chipotle salt and juniper berries.

BBQ beefCooked to absolute perfection – without doubt this beef was the star of the show.

Served straight from the board when we descended like a wake of vultures, crowding around Medieval, gobbling up slice after slice as he carved, moaning with gustatory pleasure as we begged for more.

Beef in a bunAlso served in brioche buns (because that’s what we had in, but something sturdier and less sweet would have been better), with a sprig or two of watercress and the sweetest Sicilian cherry tomatoes on the side.

Dandelion seedClearly we should have tackled some weeding, but who could be bothered after all that meat? 😉
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Bresaola, Pear and Gorgonzola Salad

In a ‘gotta try something new’ state of mind I was browsing the virtual shelves of our online supermarket when I stumbled across something called bresaola. What a find!

If you haven’t done so yet, you should try it (make this recipe).  If you have…damn you for keeping it a secret from me! 😉

BresaolaHow would I describe it?  Well, it’s air dried, salt beef, served sliced very, veeerry thinly and usually quite simply dressed.  At the risk of bringing the wrath of real foodies upon my head for my failure to note all the subtleties, I’d say it’s kinda like a delicious beef version of Parma ham.

Isn’t that colour something special?

PearsThese beautifully ripe, russet skinned Taylor’s Gold pears seemed like a perfect partner for the cured beef.

GorgonzolaAnd to top things off, runny, ripe Gorgonzola providing a delicious, tangy contrast to the sweet pears and the salty beef.

Bresaola, gorgonzola and pear saladPour over a honey mustard & lemon dressing and it all comes together beautifully 🙂


Ingredients
10-12 slices bresaola
2 ripe pears, cored and thinly sliced (skin on)
100-150g gorgonzola (or other blue cheese), cut into chunks/crumbled
1 lemon, juice only
A glug of olive oil
A small knob of butter
1 teaspoon whole grain mustard
2 teaspoons honey
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Watercress or other edible greenery
A handful of mixed cherry tomatoes
Music

Toss pear slices in a tablespoon or so of the lemon juice.

Cooked pearsHeat oil and butter in a frying pan and cook pear over a medium to high heat, until edges are turning brown.  Remove from pan and set to one side.

Dressing ingredientsMake dressing by mixing together remaining lemon juice, mustard and honey until well combined.  Season to taste.

Bresaola, pear and gorgonzola saladArrange watercress, tomatoes and bresaola on plate, scatter over cheese, top with pears and drizzle over dressing.

Feast!
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Sunday Brunch – Hot Roast Beef, Onion and Stilton Sandwiches

A beastly week in the day job culminated in me needing to work this Sunday.  Less than impressed, I coaxed myself out of bed at insane-o’clock-in-the-morning with the promise of something über delicious for brunch.  By the time I was heading home again, at well past midday, I was also vowing that brunch would be spectacularly quick and easy to make.sandwiches and ciderA quick whizz through the local supermarket yielded some freshly baked ciabatta style rolls and a bottle of my (current) favourite cider, but still no real plan.

After a rummage through the fridge at home we finally decided to make hot roast beef sandwiches.  It turned out to be an extremely good and satisfying choice 🙂

I feel it’s a bit of a stretch, calling this a ‘recipe’ – after all, it’s a sandwich!  Perhaps calling it a ‘how to’ would be more appropriate…?!

Ingredients
1 ciabatta roll per person 
4 slices roast beef per person
1 small onion, sliced, per person
Small knob of butter
Splash of olive oil
Mustard
Stilton
Music – an essential ingredient to all Sunday brunch recipes.

Of course, your choice of music is entirely your own – as long as you enjoy it, it will work well with the recipe.

Heating the beef over onionsHeat the oil and butter, add sliced onions and sauté.  When they begin to soften, but are not quite cooked, lay the slices of roast beef over the top to heat.  Turn the roast beef frequently to prevent the upper side from drying out.

horseradish mustard and stiltonCut rolls in half, lightly toast then spread one side lavishly with mustard.  I’m currently in the throes of a love affair with this horseradish mustard, which is utterly perfect with beef, but wholegrain or English are just as good

my sandwichPile cooked onions onto the rolls and add folded slices of beef (make sure beef is piping hot).  Top with slices of Stilton and pop under a hot grill for a few minutes to melt.  Slap on the top half of the roll and consume enthusiastically.

Barn's sandwichYou may notice that I accidentally made Barn’s sandwich upside down – this appears to have had no adverse effect on the flavour 😉MelonMelon slices afterwards…because it’s always nice to have something sweet, don’t you think?

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The food week that was – 23/03/15

This was yet another shitty week in the day job so it’s a really good thing I’d made myself food accountable in last week’s meals post, otherwise we’d have almost definitely bowed to laziness and another week of dire dinners.

As it was we managed a passable imitation of being responsible adults, putting together mostly decent meals, at approximately expected/accepted meal times.
Spud and beansMonday: Having declared that this week would be full of culinary thrills, we started the week with a really basic meal of baked spuds, cheese and beans.   A sprinkling of chives gave a gentle oniony flavour lift, a touch of colour, and a nod towards actually making an effort.

Camembert, leeks and bacon Tuesday: I was half way through making a leek, bacon and Stilton quiche when I found a mini Camembert lolling at the side of the cheese box.  A quick consult with Barn to check he was open to some food experimentation, and the leek and bacon Camembert melt was born.

Cut CamembertMini Camembert cheese, studded with garlic, surrounded by sautéed leeks and bacon, and baked on a shortcrust pastry base.  Served with roasted carrots and parsnips, and wilted spinach.

There’s a lot I would change about this – use puff pastry instead of shortcrust, use less bacon, make them individual – but as an off the cuff experiment it worked out ok.  Loved the way the melted cheese spilled out, creating a sauce for the veggies.

Malaysian beef curryWednesday: Making mid-week better with a hot and spicy Malaysian beef curry on jasmine rice.

Butternut squash risottoThursday: Creamy risotto with roast butternut squash and black olives, finished with a drizzle of lemon infused olive oil and a generous sprinkling of chopped, fresh basil.  On the side, watercress, tomato and cucumber salad, topped with toasted sunflower seeds and dressed with balsamic vinegar.

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The food week that was – 02/03/15

I’m sure you know the story of King Alfred the Great – the guy who allegedly let the cakes burn because he was preoccupied with thoughts about his beleaguered kingdom?  Well, I bet you’ve never heard the story of Barn, the guy who let the pies burn because he was preoccupied with thoughts about his kingdom?

Alfred had fair justification for his absent minded approach to baked goods; the fellow’s very life was in danger and he was on the run – sleeping in ditches and begging for food – whilst also trying to save his lands from actual marauding Vikings.  There was every reason for culinary timing to be low on his list of priorities.  For Barn?  Not so much.

He was sitting comfortably, on a sofa in his living room, tasked with nothing more than listening out for the oven timer then informing me of said occurrence.  The only kingdom he had any concerns about was the virtual one in Kingdom of Camelot (oh yeh, I’ll name it and shame ya! 😘 ), and the only ‘life’ in danger was that of a pixelated soldier.  Apparently he didn’t hear or smell a thing as the oven alarm shrieked for its fully allowed time slot, and our dinner gave itself to the funeral pyre, clutching its last vestiges of flavour, mourning its uncelebrated heyday.

Naturally he was referred to as Burning Barn for the rest of the evening.  No opportunity, no matter how small or tenuous, was passed over when it came to teasing and tormenting him.  Petit Man is a great ‘bouncing’ partner for this particular form of verbal entertainment (Mum and Medieval are also superb co-jousters, but sadly they weren’t around for this one); we amused ourselves mightily, stumbling upon forcing references to Barn the Great Pie Torturer from every TV advert, programme and innocuous conversation :twisted:.

Chicken chorizo pot piesMonday: So…what we had Monday was potentially-awesome-but-kinda-burned chicken and chorizo pot pies, served with hideously burned roast cauliflower and some steamed veg.

The chicken was poached in cider, then the cider stock reduced and used with cream to make a sauce for the chicken, fried chorizo and leeks.  A happy little layer survived the torrid oven affair and was sufficiently good to put the recipe on the ‘definitely try it again’ list.

Fridge bottom soupTuesday: Fridge bottom soup.  Sounds vile doesn’t it?  I know I should call it ‘leek and courgette’, or ‘cream of veg’ or somesuch, but it was what it says…soup made with stuff that needed using up from the drawer at the bottom of the fridge.

Sautéed soffrito (finely diced onion, carrot and celery in the ratio 2:1:1 – an excellent starting point for many sauces, stews etc. – make huge batches with a food processor and keep portions in the freezer); chopped leeks and courgettes added & browned.  Two crushed garlic cloves, fresh thyme and parsley, dried oregano chucked in and swished around for a while.  Chicken stock added (enough to cover veg plus a bit more) and simmered for about 15 minutes.  Blitzed in the food processor, added soured cream, a little double cream, and chives.  Reheated, adjusted seasoning, added an extra swirl of cream and more fresh herbs to finish.  Served with warm g/f cheesy puffs made with extra mature cheddar and English mustard.  It tasted insanely good.

Chicken pear and stilton saladWednesday dinner: Warm salad of grilled chicken breast and sweet ripe pears, with creamy blue Stilton and crunchy caramelised walnuts; served with baked tomatoes on a bed of crisp, fresh watercress and baby spinach leaves, dressed with wholegrain mustard and balsamic vinaigrette.

Barn made the leftovers into a sandwich for his lunch at work the next day.  I believe he was hoping for a reaction something akin to one of these:

What he got was this:

K: What’ve you got there?

Barn: Olive ciabatta, with watercress, pears and…

K: Pears?!

Barn: Yeh, and blue cheese…

K: Mouldy cheese?!

Barn:  …and chicken.

Pause, while each chews their chosen lunch and K contemplates Barn’s sandwich

K, dubiously: Well, I suppose the chicken would be ok.

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The food week that was – 23/02/15

Happy St. David’s Day people of Wales!

Each year, this day brings back abundant memories of being at primary school in a tiny Welsh village …in particular, being issued with a choice of leek or daffodil to wear for the day.  The older kids always went with a leek, preferably one so large it had to be worn cross-wise on the chest, with a phalanx of pins required to keep it there.  This would then be nibbled and gnawed throughout the day, much to the chagrin of the head teacher, who felt it to be utterly disrespectful to the patron saint.  End of day prayers and gratitudes would be chanted by around 20 children sporting leek roots on their now out of shape jumpers.

Back to modern times, no raw leeks were consumed this week.  The following dishes were though:

Roast pork shoulderMonday: Most people have a Sunday roast but because we were too busy lazy to cook it on Sunday, we had a Monday roast instead.

Pork shoulder with a honey, rosemary and garlic glaze,  braised red cabbage with apple and cranberries, roast potatoes, steamed carrots, Petit Man’s awesome cauliflower cheese with leeks, and gravy that was perked up with a splash of red wine.  Right up there in the yumminess charts.

Brisket wrapsTuesday: The previous night we’d taken some pulled brisket from the freezer with no plan as to what to do with it.  When dinner time came all of us were tired and can’t-be-botheredish, so once again we trod the path of least resistance and went for wraps made thusly:

Fry up onion, garlic and strips of green peppers; add shredded beef and heat thoroughly.  Generously spread a tortilla wrap (in this case herb and garlic ones) with chilli ketchup and top with grated cheese (we used a mix of Monterey Jack, mozzarella and extra mature farmhouse cheddar – but that’s just because it was what we had in the fridge!).  Grill until cheese has melted.  Watch the tortilla edges very carefully – they wait ’til they think you’re not looking then hurriedly burn themselves.  Remove from grill, add beef and veg, top with soured cream and fire-roasted chillies, roll, cut and eat.  Simples.Fish and chipsWednesday: Using my unholy influence* upon Barn, I created in him a desire for fish ‘n’ chips that was so strong he was unable to resist stopping off on the way back from the gym to pick some up.  Mwahahaha!

The batter on the fish was superb – crispy, fresh and not harbouring oil wells.  The chips were top notch and the mushy peas finished it off nicely.  Eaten straight from the paper watching trash TV this was a truly satisfying meal.

* Until now you’ve probably been blissfully unaware that I am, apparently, the anti-Christ.  I have been publicly denounced as such by a someone ‘in the know’.  I’ll tell you the story if you ask me to ;-).

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Meat. A lot of meat.

Sunday afternoon – brunch time in the Renegade household – with mixed grill on the menu.

Mixed grill againFrom the top: pork sausage (burned at one end because the packet got squashed in transit and the innards had mushed out!), a tiny piece of venison steak trimmed from Petit Man’s much larger one, grilled field mushroom , grilled vine tomato, beef fillet steak, thick cut bacon, and in the centre, a fine lamb chop.

Eaten with great dollops of sauces, this was delicious.  Shame we forgot the onion rings.  Never mind, next time…

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