Monthly Archives: February 2012

Beef – Jamaican pot roast

Last weekend I decided to take meat on! No I don’t mean that I ate meat, but I did make two meaty dishes to serve on Saturday night and Sunday night.
Saturday was to be a Jamaican pot roast, from Levi Roots Caribbean Food Made Easy.

4lb topside of beef
4 springs of thyme
2 garlic cloves
2cm piece of root ginger
1 red chilli
2 spring onions, green part only chopped
2 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp malt vinegar
3 tbsp soft dark sugar
2 tbsp sunflower oil
salt and pepper
1 onion
1 celery stick
2 plum tomatoes
150ml beef stock
4 carrots, cut into chunky rounds
10 small waxy potatoes

Put the leaves of 2 sprigs of thyme, garlic, ginger, chilli, spring onions into a mortar and pestal. work this into a chunky paste.

Make several deep incisions into the beef and work your paste into the slits in the beef.
Mix up the soy sauce, malt vinegar and sugar and rub this over the beef. Leave this to marinade overnight or 4hrs minimum.

When you are ready to start cooking, take some kitchen paper to your beef to pat it dry, season the beef with salt and pepper. Heat your oil in a casserole dish (pick one with a lid). Add your beef to the pan and brown all sides, then remove from the heat.

Add your onion and celery to the pan, cook on a medium heat until soft.
Then add the tomatoes, stock and the rest of the thyme.
Bring this to up to the boil and add your meat back to the pot and turn the heat down.

Partially cover the pot with the lid and allow to simmer for 2hrs, top up with extra water half way through if it’s needed. After 2hrs add your carrots and potatoes and continue to cook until they are tender.
To serve you can serve straight from the pot or carve up among friends.

I didn’t find Levis’ recipe the easiest to read, it seemed to jump around in a way that could have confused the cooking process.
The meat was well cooked by the end, and as a result not a fall apart dish like I had expected it to be.  I would suggest to anyone trying this to pick their beef wisely, I followed the recipe but I would suggest speaking to your butcher to see what he suggests!

Time taken: Overnight marinading, then approx 3hrs to cook! you need to have some time to make this dish!


Lamb stuffed with spinach, feta and olives

With the weather slowly starting to turn, so do our taste buds. Over the winter we tend to eat plenty of comforting foods, usually in the shape of warm hearty dishes, one pot dishes and pies. But last weekend the weather began to pick up the pace, the temperatures reminded us all that the cold months of winter might  be starting to fade. 12c isn’t bad for February, considering we had snow only the week before!  During the warm weekend, I found this dish in Lucas Hollweg Good Thing’s to Eat, with a stuffing of spinach, olives and feta, my mind was sent back to my holiday in Greece. To me it shouted spring, so I created this for last Sunday’s dinner.

This should serve 6 people or 6 dinners throughout your week! The olive and feta mix should give the meat a good salad, add a few more to the mix when you serve with roast potatoes. You might end up with extra stuffing, (don’t over stuff your lamb it will just fall out!) I used the remainder as a topping to white fish, this works very well if you’re cooking for any pescetarians!

Leg of lamb, 1.5 – 2kg
4 garlic cloves
200g feta roughly broken up
1 handful of mint
1 handful of parsley
3 handfuls spinach
12 olives, pitted and drained
lemon zest
2 sprigs of thyme
3tbsp olive oil
200ml dry white wine

Pre heat your oven to 220C
This dish was simple, but to make sure you get it right, you will need to pay attention to the oven temperature.

 Take 2 garlic cloves, olives spinach, mint, parsley and 2 sprigs of thyme and add them to the food processor. Grate your lemon, season with black pepper and add a tablespoon of olive oil. Now whizz this up to make your paste. Remove the blade from your processor and crumble in your feta

 Blend  Crumble  Stuff

I spilt my leg of lamb in half but making sure to keep the bone in. spoon out your mixture into the centre of your lamb. Alternatively ask your butcher to tunnel bone a leg of lamb, leaving the shank bone attached. This will give you a cavity to fill with your stuffing. Once stuffed you will need to knit you lamb back together, with string or skewers so that the filling is sealed inside.

Place your lamb on a baking tray with the fatty side upwards. Stab your lamb and push in the two remaining garlic cloves, you could split them in half and make 4 incisions, should you wish.
Rub the remaining oil into the skin, season and scatter the last spring of thyme over the fat, squeeze your lemon juice over the thyme before putting the lamb in the oven.

Roast the lamb for 20 mins, on the high temperature of 220C. Remove the lamb from the oven and reduce the oven temperature down to 180C. Add your wine to the baking tray, scrape any dark juices up to mix ni with the wine. Once your oven temperature had reduced put your lamb back into the oven.
Oven timings: 1 hour for 1.5kg.  1.5 hour for 2kg.

Once your oven beeps (if you put a timer on that is!) rest the lamb for 20mins cover the lamb with a loose tent of foil. Carve you meat into slices, use the juices as a gravy, you can warm these up in a small saucepan if it has turned cool during the resting time.

Ease of cooking: If you ask your butcher to tunnel bone the leg, there is very little that can go wrong! The stuffing is simple and tasty.
Time spent: Allow 2.5hrs from start to finish, 30mins of prep. Approx 1hr 30min in oven and 30mins to rest, carve and serve.

Meribel with VIP SKI – food in focus

Skiing when I went with University, was all about the slopes, the fancy dress and the après. Food was a low priority, so long as there was a fondue booked in the week, we would pick up pizzas from the local creperie and create our own creations made from anything we could pick in the supermarché. Some things haven’t changed: It’s still all about the slopes, we still need good après drinks, pizza is always a good choice and we still book a fondue once a week.

Skiing is fun, fast and energetic. If you’re gym fit this will help you enjoy your week more, but don’t shy away from the idea if you’re new and perhaps not gym fit. If anything I hope this blog might sway you to book, based on food alone!

You need to be prepared for a cold day, this year our coldest recorded was minus 29C. The energy that you burn through exercise and keeping warm means that you need good food! Pick a good resort for your skiing experience, do a bit of internet research this won’t cost you a penny. Getting good snow is dependant on your luck and possibly the resort you pick. Where you need to be picky is if you want to get good food, accommodation and a good service. This year I went with VIP SKI, again, it was my 4th year with them, which should tell you something.

The accommodation has been fantastic on all four stays, spanning two resorts and four different chalets. Select the right chalet and you can have a hot tub, balcony and ski-in, ski-out access and the après bars a short walk away. Club chalets provide that little bit extra, the main difference being the free beer fridge, as well as canapés and sparkling wine every night before dinner!

To eat: Cooked breakfasts; cake with tea and coffee for when you come in from the slopes and a three course meal for 6 of the 7 nights.
To drink: Complimentary beer and a variety of wine, red and white, during dinner.

Every morning we would come down to a table filled with multiple cereal options, (Including that lovely looking ‘dorset cereals’ cereal.) orange juice, coffee and teas and a selection of yoghurt. I must admit I opted for the same thing, most mornings: 1 poached egg, cooked tomatoes and some French bread. Finished with a yoghurt (for dessert!?). Bacon was also on offer to those who ate meat. A snap shot of our meals throughout the week, from my memory and odd notes!

Day 1:
 Arrival day Evening: On the first night we were welcomed by champagne and canapés while we all settled in to our new home for the week. The long wooden table was being set while we sipped our champagne and chatted to other guests. Main: Mushroom stroganoff or Beef stroganoff, the mushroom stroganoff had a delicious rich sauce and plenty of mushrooms Dessert: Tequila lime pie this was served with an optional shot of Tequila to hit the spot.

Day 2: We went guiding with the chalets ski host & Guide, club chalets are usually quite large and have their own personal guide. If you don’t know your resort and you’re a confident skier then I would highly recommend this. The guides usually take you somewhere good for lunch too.
Guiding Lunch: We went to an Australian bar/restaurant where they had recently celebrated Australia day, half way up the mountain! Around the table, we had: Veggie burger & frites; 2 xcheeseburger & frites; Tartiflette, Omlette with ham, cheese and onion; A large salad with hot goats cheese (chevre chaud) and a lasagne.
Evening: Canapés and sparkling wine.
Starter: Spicy butternut squash soup – this was tasty on the butternut side but not as spicy as I would have made for myself, then again if it was too spicy it may have not been for all 18 guests.
Main: Spinach and cheese pancake or duck. The creamy sauce made my pancake rich but not stodgy. The duck was well cooked to everyone’s satisfaction this dish was definitely a winner.
Dessert: Bread and Butter pudding

Day 3:
Guiding Lunch: Where we ate: La Caudanne. Around the table we had: Reblochon and walnut salad with frites; Camembert box and meats on the board – this looked fantastic, but was certainly for the hungry, with a three course dinner on the horizon I paced myself; Lasagne, Macaroni cheese. And Italian beer!? I’m not complaining as I like Peroni however we were in France!
Evening: Canapés: fig and blue cheese wrapped in bacon or without bacon if you are a vegetarian, these were delicious! &sparkling wine. 
Starter: Tomato and goats cheese tart
Main: Sea Bass, this dish was the one I was most looking forward too. Possibly because I hadn’t eaten fish since Friday and I was really missing it after 3 days.
Dessert: Summer fruit pudding, this was my favourite dessert!

Day 4
Lunch: Where we ate: Val Thoren: Vegetarian pizza and a Heineken. At the start of the week we knew that our hosts would take a night off, so this was the time to book our fondue restaurant! I would suggest getting the hosts recommendations, after all they have been out in the resort since December!
Evening: Chez Kiki in #Meribel for Fondue, this included being told by the French chef that we needed to stir more, adjust our flame and basically do a fondue right! Somehow we had room for a dessert, clearly our appetite had adjusted during the week!
But despite this the restaurant was perfect, it was 30 years old, with wooden beams, it had 3 levels within the restaurant. It was heaving with fellow skiers, whose hosts had the night off, including a child who had fallen asleep at the head of the table before the adults’ main courses had been ordered!

Day 5:
 Le menuieres Snack: chocolate chaud, and chocolate chaud Chantilly, I ordered this for entertainment as the wipped cream that was piled on the top was deeper than the cup itself.
Evening: Canapés: smoked salmon blinis Starter rare beef salad or Mushroom and garlic on toast
Main: salmon steak or lamb cutlets, the salmon was well cooked and was bought by the chalet hosts with me in mind apparently, which I think goes to show the effort the hosts go to for their guests.
Dessert: wine poached pear

Day 6:
 Courchevel Lunch: Courchevel 1850 Ku DE TA: What we ate: l’ocean pizza (salmon) and a medium beef burger with tasty chips and two beers €58 

: Canapés: Camembert starter with crudités! Hmm good for minus 22 conditions!
Starter: My first Onion soup of the week, and it was worth the wait!
Main: Thai green curry was the vegetarian option, in my opinion this was a dish that fell a bit flat, and it wasn’t the best match against the meat eaters massive steak, which seemed to go down very well throughout the chalet guests.
Dessert: Chocolate torte, this was as a chocolate torte should be: Chocolatey and rich, a great end to our week of many meals.

So if my snapshot of our menu and VIP experience appeals and you have pictured yourself in a chalet for a week at all during this blog, then take a look online and eye up your next ski trip.