There is something about having dinner bubbling away by noon that makes you feel like a boss for the rest of the day. It makes dinner hassle-free, and even the prep seems quicker earlier in the day. With a new baby in the house, and being the middle of winter, the slow cooker has become my best friend.
I wanted to create a slow cooker beef dish that would be the ultimate comfort meal. I make a lot of slow cooked beef dishes that involve tomatoes, but I wanted something richer, something creamier, and something that seemed more indulgent. However, this dish still has lots of veg and makes getting your ‘five-a-day’ easy.
So in addition to carrots, celery and mushrooms, a classic beef combination, I decided to go with the often overlooked Brussels sprout. I am a fairly recent convert myself. When I lived in Cambridge for a year I subscribed to a weekly veg box and received many many Brussels sprouts which necessitated learning how to cook them a variety of ways. And I realised that when cooked well they can be delicious! In this dish, the Brussels sprouts soak up the flavour of the mustard and provide a crunchy texture and a nutty depth of flavour to the casserole.
Serve with mashed potatoes and red wine, for a cosy supper on a cold night. I made this on a night when the wind was hammering at the windows and the rain was lashing down and it was wonderful.
Slow cooker creamy beef casserole with Brussels sprouts and mustard
- 1kg chuck steak, cut into 2cm cubes
- 2 tbs olive oil
- 1 onion, diced
- 1 tbs plain flour
- 1 cup beer
- 2 cups beef stock
- 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
- 2 carrots, peeled and cut into thick rounds
- 2 celery sticks, cut into thick slices
- 1 tbs Dijon mustard
- 2 cups Brussels sprouts
- 1/2 cup cream
- 1 cup button mushrooms, sliced
- Handful of parsley, to serve
- 1 lemon, to serve
- Mashed potato, to serve
- Heat oil in the base of the slow cooker set to ‘sear’ function. If you do not have this function, use a frying pan. Add the onion and sear the meat until all surfaces are browned.
- Add the flour and stir to evenly distribute and coat beef. Cook for 1 min.
- Add beer and stock, deglazing the base of the pan with the liquid. If using a frying pan, move beef to the slow cooker at this point.
- Add the garlic, carrots, celery and mustard.
- Set your slow cooker for 6 hours on low or 3 hours on high.
- Add the Brussels sprouts and mushrooms 10 mins before the end of the cooking time.
- Once cooking is complete, add cream and stir. Serve with mashed potato. Garnish with parsley and a spritz of lemon juice.
Winter is the season for homemade soup. I have fond memories of growing up eating soup for lunch at the weekends. Minestrone, pumpkin, and pea & ham were the family favourites.
For this soup, I experimented with a new discovery for me: fennel. I had never made soup with it before, and as it was in season, I thought I’d experiment.
This soup balances the aniseed flavour of the fennel with the sweetness of the apple for a light but flavoursome meal. It goes well with garlic bread, and a garnish of sour cream.
I like to make extra portions of soup and freeze them for future weekend lunches. This time around, it came in handy for our first weekend getaway as a new family. With one night away and a little 4 month old in tow, we decided to book accommodation that had a kitchen and self-cater for dinner. And my fennel and apple soup was just the thing! Frozen, it was easy to pack into the car. And super easy to heat up in an unfamiliar kitchen. Yum! Hot, warming, homemade soup. Minimal effort for a cosy holiday dinner.
- ½ leek, finely sliced
- 20g butter
- 2 fennels, sliced
- 3 apples, diced
- 1-2 tbs plain flour
- 1 litre chicken stock
- Fennel fronds, to serve
- Greek style plain yoghurt, to serve
- Fry leek in butter in a large heavy-bottomed saucepan on a medium heat until soft.
- Add fennel and apples and fry for 3 mins.
- Add flour, and stir to form a roux with butter on the base of the pan.
- Add chicken stock and 1 litre of water and bring to the boil.
- Simmer soup until vegetables are softened, about 20 minutes.
- Puree soup with a stick blender until smooth.
- Serve topped with fennel fronds and a dollop of yoghurt.
My husband and I found out that we were expecting a baby around this time last year. The week prior I had made a batch of mulled white wine. It was delicious and I think it was the last alcoholic drink I consumed.
I love the warming effect of a glass of mulled wine and I missed it last year. For me, it goes hand in hand with memories of winter folk festivals, roaring fires, good music and terrible weather. Reminiscing about this time last year, I was inspired to create a recipe that hinted of mulled wine, and the feeling of hygge (oh this was such a big thing last year!), without the alcohol.
So here is my creation – an orange crumble. Orange, to me, is a strange fruit to stew. But cooked on a low heat with spices just long enough to infuse the flavours, it works like magic. Oranges are delicious at the moment and, aside from eaten fresh, this is a clever way to use up a few extras lurking in the kitchen.
The crumble topping is so simple to prepare. In fact, next time I make this recipe I am so going to double the quantity and freeze the leftovers, ready to pull out on a random Thursday evening when the weather is freezing and the only thing to do is to snuggle up on the sofa and eat a cosy dessert. Maybe it could replace dinner….
For the stewed oranges:
- 4 oranges, diced with all pith removed
- ¼ tsp nutmeg
- ¼ tsp ground cardamom
- ¼ tsp cinnamon
- 2 cloves
- 2 tbs honey
- 1-2 tbs water
- 2 handfuls sultanas
For the crumble:
- 60g butter, softened
- 100g plain flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/3 cup caster sugar
- 30g rolled oats
- Add the diced oranges and spices, honey and water to a small saucepan and stew on a low heat for 5 mins until fragrant and sticky, but before the oranges lose their shape.
- In a separate mixing bowl, use your hands to rub the butter into the flour . Rub until the mixture becomes crumbly.
- Add the baking powder, sugar and oats to the flour & butter mixture and stir to combine.
- Preheat the oven to 200° Celsius.
- Stir the sultanas through the orange mixture. Spoon it into individual sized ramekins. Sprinkle the top with a generous amount of crumble mixture.
- Bake in the oven for 20 mins or until the crumble topping is golden and the orange mixture is bubbling underneath. Serve with cream or Greek-style plain yoghurt.
Growing up, my mother’s specialty dish was a hearty roast lamb. It was by far the family favourite, preferred over pork, beef and chicken. I think my mum started cooking it because my father had grown up eating roast lamb every Sunday, cooked by my grandmother. When my grandmother passed away, my mum, her daughter-in-law, kept up the tradition. And of course, it was served with all the great British trimmings – mint sauce, gravy, potatoes, carrots, peas…
I have for you here a reinvention, if you will. I called on my memories of roast lamb and the flavours that it entailed. My pie has potatoes, carrots, mint and peas! Reminiscent of old fashioned family Sunday dinners. A meal for a winter Sunday lunch, for family gathered around. To share a good bottle of red wine, and to spend the afternoon debating answers to the Sunday quiz.
- 1.5 kg lamb shoulder, bone on
- 1 tbs olive oil
- 1 red onion, cut into chunks
- 4 rashers bacon, diced
- 1 tbs plain flour
- 1 cup red wine
- 2 cups beef stock
- 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
- 1 tsp dried rosemary
- ½ tsp dried parsley
- ½ tsp dried thyme
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 tbs tomato paste
- 2 carrots, cut into thick rounds
- 500g potatoes, washed, peeled and diced into 2 cm chunks
- 1 tbs apple cider vinegar
- Salt, pepper
- 1 cup frozen peas
- 1 handful of fresh mint, coarsely chopped
- 1 sheet store-bought puff pastry
- 1 egg, beaten
- Heat oil in slow cooker set to ‘sear’ mode (or use heavy bottomed saucepan on stove). Sear lamb until browned all over. Add red onion and bacon and stir.
- Add flour and stir for 1-2 minutes until juices are thickened.
- Add red wine to deglaze the bottom of the pan. Cook until liquid reduces by half. Transfer lamb to slow cooker.
- Add beef stock, garlic, herbs, tomato paste, carrots, potatoes and vinegar. Season with salt and pepper.
- Set slow cooker to ‘slow cook’ mode and cook for 3 hours on high or 6 hours on low.
- Once ready, set slow cooker to ‘sear’ mode again and bubble until liquid thickens. Stir through peas and mint.
- Spray a pie dish with oil and preheat the oven to 180° Celsius.
- Spoon the pie filling into the dish and top with the pastry sheet, using a little oil to seal the edges. Prick several holes in the pastry with a fork and brush with beaten egg.
- Bake in the oven for 15-20 mins until pastry is golden and puffed. Serve with fresh mint.